HALIFAX -- The Nova Scotia Liberal Party is opening up the voting process for its next leader – and the next premier of Nova Scotia.

"The Party has chosen to open up this process so that every member can become a delegate and cast a vote to select the next Liberal leader," the Liberal Party said in a news release. "As long as they are members before the cut-off on Jan. 7, they can register as delegates."

The new system is a change from previous leadership conventions in which a limited number of delegates chosen by riding associations attended the convention and voted on who would be the next leader.

Instead of being a convention that people attend, delegates will pick the new leader by electronic voting between Feb. 1 and Feb. 6, 2021. People will be allowed to cast their votes via the Internet (using a computer, smartphone, or tablet) or by telephone.

"The winner will be announced at the party’s leadership convention, which will be live-streamed to both delegates and the public," the news release says.

In early August, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced he would be stepping down as soon as a new leader could be chosen.

The Liberal party says it will use a "one-member one-vote system, weighted by riding" and delegates will fill out a preferential ballot.

"The weighted system allocates 100 points to each of the province’s 55 electoral districts, ensuring that support for the winning candidate is distributed throughout the province," the news release says. "The candidate who receives a majority of the points becomes the next leader and premier."

Any party member in good standing can register as a delegate by Jan. 12, 2021.

"The past few months have brought significant change and uncertainty for everyone," said Jane O’Neill, co-chair of the leadership organizing committee. "The leadership committee is committed to a safe process. This means we’ll be embracing technology and new voting practices, while ensuring that nobody is left behind.”

Nova Scotia Liberal Party president Joseph Khoury said the change reflects a wish to open up the leadership process to more members.

"We made it this way to ensure as much openness as we can and as wide a representation across the province as possible," he said.

No one has officially announced a bid for the leadership, although McNeil confirmed to reporters Monday that his chief of staff, Laurie Graham, is considering a run. McNeil unexpectedly announced his resignation last month, saying it was time to leave politics.

Education Minister Zach Churchill, Immigration Minister Lena Diab, Central Nova MP Sean Fraser and Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin are among a few people who have publicly stated they are considering running.

The rules of procedure are available on-line.

With files from The Canadian Press.