SYDNEY, N.S. -- The pandemic has put a stop to a lot of things, but a political scientist says it may have helped spark voter turnout in Nova Scotia's municipal elections.

The number of voters was up in both the Halifax and Cape Breton regional municipalities, where women were among the biggest winners.

It was a whirlwind weekend for Amanda McDougall.

She is the new mayor-elect of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality -- making history as the first female to do so -- after defeating incumbent Cecil Clarke by more than 4,000 votes.

"I feel so much at ease," said McDougall. "I have had the confidence of almost 25,000 people voting for me, which means they're prepared for me to do this job and I know I'm prepared to do it well."

More than 60 per cent of those who voted in CBRM cast their ballot electronically or over the phone.

Cape Breton University political science professor Tom Urbaniak says not having a paper ballot may have helped the 37-year-old mayor-elect.

"Mobilizing younger voters, which Amanda McDougall successfully did, was certainly a factor in her win," Urbaniak said. "Also most of the change vote centred around Amanda McDougall."

In Halifax, Mike Savage returns as mayor. The city saw a significant increase in voter turnout compared to four years ago.

A spokesperson for HRM says the feedback they have been getting on e-voting suggests many find it convenient.

Urbaniak feels COVID-19 has had a positive impact on all municipal elections.

"Nova Scotians have been staying very close to home over the past several months," Urbaniak said. "When people stay close to home, they pay a little more attention to the issues and challenges of their neighbourhoods and the local political scene."

Official results for all municipalities will be issued later this week following a final vote count.

For McDougall, she's looking forward to changing the dynamic in council chambers.

"We're a team and I think that's what was missing in our past four years," McDougall said. "We were very divisive at times as a council."

No matter the outcome, Urbaniak says e-voting is here to stay, and could very well be the norm for municipal elections long after COVID-19.