The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

Bill No. 83

Elections Act (amended) *

An Act to Amend Chapter 5 of the Acts of 2011, the Elections Act *

Introduced by:
Honourable Lena Metlege Diab
Minister responsible for the Elections Act

First Reading
Second Reading Debates
Second Reading Passed
Law Amendments Committee
    Meeting Date(s) April 13, 2015; April 15, 2015
    Reported to the House
Committee of the Whole House
Third Reading Debates
Third Reading
Royal Assent
Commencement Proclamation or on January 1, 2016, if not proclaimed in force before that day; except ss. 87 and 102: June 16, 2015.
2015 Statutes, Chapter 17

Explanatory Note

Explanatory Notes
  Clause 1 adds definitions of “elector’s agent”, “electronic” and “scrutineer” and amends the definitions of “election officer” and “prospective candidate”.
Clause 2

(a) removes a redundant clause;

(b) permits the Chief Electoral Officer to vary prescribed forms;

(c) adds a reference to a new Section; and

(d) corrects errors.

Clause 3 amends the definition of “legal name”.

Clause 4 removes two subsections that are replaced elsewhere.

Clause 5 clarifies the duties of the Assistant Chief Electoral Officer.

Clause 6 removes the reference to “assistant returning officers and election clerks” from the heading before the Sections dealing with “returning officers”.

Clauses 7 and 8 remove references to the position of “assistant returning officer” for the purpose of a second returning office.

Clauses 9 to 12

(a) remove references to “election clerk” and “assistant returning officer”;

(b) add “grandchild” to the definition of “immediate family” for the purpose of who may not be appointed as an assistant returning officer by the returning officer;

(c) rename “election clerks” as “assistant returning officers”; and

(d) remove references to “assistant election clerk”.

Clause 13 changes the time within which a returning officer is required to provide notice of an election from five days from the date of the writ to not later than the 27th day before election day.

Clause 14 adds “Armed” to the term “Canadian Forces”.

Clause 15

(a) permits electors to register their names on line or by telephone;

(b) removes a reference to “assistant returning officers”; and

(c) allows the Chief Electoral Officer to use prescribed information to verify the identity of an elector registering on line or by telephone.

Clause 16 requires the returning officer to certify and issue the preliminary list of electors no later than the day following the close of nominations.

Clauses 17 to 19

(a) remove references to “assistant returning officer”; and

(b) correct an error.

Clause 20 requires the Chief Electoral Officer to prepare the final list of electors within 60 days of election day.

Clause 21 requires a candidate to be an eligible elector.

Clause 22 moves the close of nominations from 14 days before election day to 20 days before election day.

Clause 23 permits nomination deposits to be fully refundable to a candidate upon receipt of

(a) the candidate’s declaration that all lists of elector information have been destroyed; and

(b) the candidate’s report of election expenses.

Clause 24 allows an individual 18 years of age or older to sign as a witness on a candidate’s declaration of withdrawal.

Clause 25 removes the one-hour period after the close of nominations for

(a) candidates to correct their nomination forms; and

(b) two candidates to agree in writing to have their names on the ballot otherwise than alphabetically.

Clause 26 permits only a registered candidate to enter an apartment building or other residential complex.

Clause 27

(a) gives nominees identified by the parties that came first and second in the last election first consideration over other candidates for training and testing for specific election officer positions;

(b) requires registered parties to provide their lists of candidates no later than five days following the issuance of the writ; and

(c) removes references to “assistant returning officer”, “election clerk” and “assistant election clerk”.

Clause 28 removes a reference to “election clerk” and “assistant election clerk”.

Clause 29 requires the Chief Electoral Officer, returning officer, assistant returning officer, election officers designated by the Chief Electoral Officer and authorized printers to secure ballot paper and ballots.

Clause 30 allows authorized printers to receive ballot paper and submit documentation directly to the Chief Electoral Officer.

Clause 31

(a) changes “form” to “forms” to allow the Chief Electoral Officer to print a ballot in a different form depending on the voting opportunity;

(b) removes the requirement to print ballots for advance polls;

(c) removes the requirement to print the name of the printer and the community in which the printer’s business is located on the back of the ballot; and

(d) replaces “family name” with “last name”.

Clause 32

(a) replaces “agents” with “scrutineers”;

(b) allows the child of an elector to be in the polling station; and

(c) allows any person necessarily present in order to comply with a provision of the Act to be in the polling station.

Clause 33

(a) replaces “agents” with “scrutineers”;

(b) permits scrutineers to photograph or copy and convey information, with respect to electors who have voted, without disturbing the conduct of the election; and

(c) prohibits anyone from using an electronic device in a polling station unless so authorized by the Act or the Chief Electoral Officer.

Clause 34 replaces “agent” with “scrutineer”.

Clause 35 authorizes the Chief Electoral Officer to instruct the returning officer to divide the official list of electors.

Clauses 36 and 37

(a) replace “agent” with “scrutineer”;

(b) correct an error; and

(c) replace “election clerk” with “assistant returning officer”.

Clause 38

(a) removes the term “assistant returning officer”;

(b) extends the time for early voting opportunities by allowing an elector to apply for a write-in ballot from the 27th day before election day;

(c) allows an elector or elector’s agent to apply for a write-in ballot for voting


(i) in a district where the elector is not resident, up to 6:00 p.m. on the third day before election day, or
(ii) in the district where the elector is resident, up to 3:00 p.m. on election day;

(d) provides for a single write-in ballot box; and

(e) requires the write-in ballot co-ordinator and assistant write-in ballot co-ordinator to carry out write-in ballot poll procedures in at least one location outside the returning office.

Clause 39

(a) removes the term “assistant returning officer”; and

(b) requires an elector applying for a write-in ballot to


(i) provide proof of identity and residence if the elector’s name is on the list of electors,
(ii) and, if not on the list, to swear or affirm his or her eligibility to vote and current residence.

Clause 40

(a) permits an elector to mark the ballot in the blank space opposite the name of the registered party that endorsed the candidate the elector wishes to vote for;

(b) clarifies the procedure for an elector who requires assistance to vote by write-in ballot; and

(c) sets out the time, location and manner in which an elector must return a write-in ballot.

Clause 41

(a) requires the presiding officer to return the elector’s approved application for a write-in ballot and the outer envelope containing the write-in ballot to the location prescribed by the Chief Electoral Officer; and

(b) corrects an error.

Clause 42

(a) authorizes the receipt of the outer envelope containing a write-in ballot at either the returning office or location prescribed by the Chief Electoral Officer; and

(b) requires the presiding officer to secure the ballot box and associated documentation as instructed by the Chief Electoral Officer at the close of the write-in ballot poll each day; and

(c) establishes the procedure for opening the poll each day.

Clause 43 adds a new Section to establish the procedure for separating the write-in ballots of residents residing outside the district from those residing within the district.

Clause 44 replaces “agents” with “scrutineers”.

Clause 45

(a) adds a provision to authorize a returning officer or assistant returning officer to appoint additional presiding officers and deputy presiding officers to assist with counting the write-in ballots;

(b) establishes the procedure for counting the write-in ballots and clarifies who may be present during the count; and

(c) sets out the criteria under which a ballot


(i) must not be rejected, and
(ii) is deemed to be rejected.

Clause 46

(a) replaces “agent” with “elector’s agent”; and

(b) raises the minimum age of an elector’s agent from 16 to 18.

Clause 47 replaces “agent” with “scrutineer”.

Clause 48

(a) replaces “deputy returning officer” with “election officer designated by the Chief Electoral Officer”;

(b) authorizes election officers to


(i) request an elector’s identification at the time of voting or, in the alternative,
(ii) require an elector to attest to the elector’s name, address and eligibility to vote by signing the prescribed form; and

(c) replaces “candidate’s agent” with “scrutineer”.

Clause 49 replaces “candidate’s agent” with “scrutineer”.

Clause 50 prohibits a person from taking a photograph of or copying a marked ballot.

Clause 51 adds the term “elector’s agent” to refer to a person assisting an elector to vote.

Clause 52 replaces “agent” with “scrutineer”.

Clause 53 permits a person to vote at a community continuous poll or advance poll if the person’s name is on the list of electors for the electoral district where the person resides.

Clause 54 replaces “candidate’s agent” with “scrutineer”.

Clause 55

(a) sets out who may be present at the close of the poll on election day for the count of the vote; and

(b) replaces “candidate’s agent” with “scrutineer”.

Clause 56

(a) directs the deputy returning officer or presiding officer to combine the ballots with the ballots of another polling station in the electoral district if fewer than 15 votes are cast at the polling station; and

(b) replaces “candidate’s agents” with “scrutineers”.

Clause 57

(a) clarifies the authority of the deputy returning officer or presiding officer to reject ballots or accept and count them; and

(b) corrects an error.

Clause 58 replaces “candidate’s agent” with “scrutineer”.

Clause 59 requires the returning officer to establish an advance polling station in a convenient, accessible place.

Clause 60 sets the days and hours of operation for an advance polling station.

Clause 61 deletes a provision respecting staff the returning officer can appoint to conduct the advance poll.

Clause 62 clarifies that the continuous poll provisions apply to advance polls.

Clause 63 replaces “deputy returning officer” with “presiding officer”.

Clause 64 clarifies the duties of the presiding officer and deputy presiding officer, the procedures to be followed and sets out who may be present at the close of an advance poll.

Clause 65 adds new Sections that

(a) authorize the Chief Electoral Officer to direct a returning officer to conduct a community continuous poll at a specified date and times;

(b) make the continuous poll provisions apply to a community continuous poll; and

(c) make the continuous poll provisions apply to a returning office continuous poll.

Clause 66

(a) sets out the time period during which a returning office continuous poll must be commenced and conducted and requires it to be established in the office of each returning officer according to the instructions of the Chief Electoral Officer;

(b) permits an elector to obtain assistance to vote from an elector’s agent; and

(c) authorizes the returning officer to appoint presiding officers and deputy presiding officers to conduct the continuous poll.

Clause 67 clarifies who may be present when the ballot box is secured.

Clause 68

(a) requires the presiding officer to


(i) request identification from an elector, and
(ii) where the elector is unable to show identification, have the elector attest as to the elector’s name, address and eligibility,

before delivering a ballot to the elector with instructions on the proper method for voting;
(b) requires the elector to place a mark on the ballot opposite the name of the candidate or registered party for whom the elector wishes to vote;

(c) replaces “agents” with “scrutineers”; and

(d) establishes the procedure for the presiding officer to secure the ballot box and voting materials at the close of voting on each day of the continuous poll.

Clause 69 adds a new Section that clarifies the duties of the presiding officer, the procedures to be followed and who may be present at the close of the continuous poll.

Clause 70

(a) permits scrutineers to be present for the vote count;

(b) corrects an error;

(c) directs the presiding officer to combine ballots from the returning office continuous poll with the ballots of another polling station where there were fewer than 15 votes cast at the returning office continuous poll;

(d) allows a scrutineer to object to the acceptance or rejection of a ballot;

(e) authorizes the Chief Electoral Officer to instruct the presiding officer on the procedure for the securing of the ballots and poll records; and

(f) replaces “an agent of a candidate or an elector” with “a scrutineer or an elector representing a candidate”.

Clause 71 replaces “deputy returning officer” with “designated election officer”.

Clause 72 clarifies that the determination of whether a candidate is entitled to a return of the deposit does not depend on the number of votes he or she receives.

Clause 73 permits assistant returning officers and scrutineers to be present during the official addition of the votes.

Clause 74 replaces “deputy returning officer” with “designated election officer”.

Clause 75 replaces “candidate’s agent” with “scrutineer”.

Clause 76

(a) replaces “in the manner prescribed” with “as instructed”; and

(b) deletes the clause with respect to combining counts of the vote with neighbouring polls where fewer than 15 votes have been cast.

Clause 77

(a) replaces “election clerk” with “assistant returning officer”; and

(b) replaces “agents” with “scrutineers”.

Clause 78 deletes the requirement for the returning officer to deliver the printer’s affidavit to the Chief Electoral Officer.

Clause 79 amends the definition of

(a) “election expenses” to clarify the period during which they may be incurred; and

(b) “organization” to include sole proprietorships.

Clause 80 clarifies that an individual who is an elector may act as an official agent.

Clause 81 requires an electoral district association to register within 30 days after the meeting to form the association.

Clause 82 removes the requirement for a leader’s signature for the annual renewal of an electoral district association’s registration.

Clause 83 removes the requirement to include the name of the financial institution and account number into which all money is to be deposited by the official agent.

Clause 84

(a) removes the requirement for a contribution calculation for a loan if the difference between the interest payable at the bank prime rate when the loan was made and the interest paid is less than $50; and

(b) clarifies the rules with respect to loan guarantees.

Clause 85

(a) adds a new subsection to require electoral district associations to provide supporting documentation with their annual financial reports; and

(b) raises the total contribution level to $10,000 before an auditor’s report is required.

Clause 86

(a) requires the candidate to sign the election expenses report;

(b) removes the requirement for an independent audit if election expenses do not exceed $500;

(c) adds bank statements to the supporting documents required to be filed; and

(d) extends the time during which the election expenses report is available for inspection from six months to 12 months.

Clause 87

(a) corrects an error; and

(b) adds a new subsection to allow a candidate to receive employment remuneration subject to certain conditions.

Clause 88 clarifies that the disclosure limit includes contributions of exactly $200.

Clause 89 adds a subsection to extend the publication date for the disclosure statements of candidates by one day for each day of any extension granted for their submission.

Clause 90

(a) authorizes the Chief Electoral Officer to prescribe the contents of the form for use as an official tax receipt and allows for electronic tax receipts; and

(b) amends a cross-reference as a result of the changes made in subclause (2).

Clause 91 clarifies that personal services and the use of a vehicle contributed by a person who is not remunerated must be valued at fair market value.

Clause 92 requires the official agent of a candidate to submit supporting documentation for any invoices for election and non-election costs paid after filing the financial report.

Clause 93 exempts constituency office signage in place on or before the issuance of the writ from election advertising rules.

Clause 94

(a) removes Elections Nova Scotia as the regulator of government advertising; and

(b) removes the ban on election day advertising.

Clause 95 requires a third party to register within seven days of incurring election expenses.

Clause 96 changes the deadline for publishing information regarding registered third parties from one year after the issue of the writ to within six months after election day.

Clause 97

(a) authorizes the Chief Electoral Officer to issue a notice of non-compliance; and

(b) provides that the issuance of a notice of non-compliance does not preclude the Chief Electoral Officer from taking further action to ensure compliance.

Clause 98 prohibits the Chief Electoral Officer from publishing the fact that a notice of non-compliance has been issued.

Clause 99 makes it an offence to take a photograph of a ballot with any electronic device.

Clause 100 establishes a penalty for failing to file the report of election expenses.

Clause 101 amends the Summary Proceedings Act to allow investigative warrants for possible offences under the Elections Act.

Clause 102 provides that the amendments contained in this Bill apply to the next election to occur after this Bill becomes law.

Clause 103 provides that the Bill comes into force on January 1, 2016, unless proclaimed in force earlier.