Elections Nova Scotia targeting diverse communities to increase voter turnout

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Elections Nova Scotia are hoping more people from Indigenous, francophone/Acadian and Black Nova Scotian communities vote in the Aug. 17 provincial election. (CBC - image credit)
Elections Nova Scotia are hoping more people from Indigenous, francophone/Acadian and Black Nova Scotian communities vote in the Aug. 17 provincial election. (CBC - image credit)

The organization that oversees provincial elections in Nova Scotia has hired three outreach workers to make it easier for Indigenous, Black and francophone/Acadian people in the province to vote.

Andrew Merilees is the Indigenous liaison officer for Elections Nova Scotia. He said a community relations officer will be placed in each of Nova Scotia's 13 Mi'kmaw communities.

"We can be more responsive to their needs to make sure there's fewer barriers for people to vote," he said.

Community relations officers will create community profiles and relay the issues within the different communities.

With an Aug. 17 provincial election, one such issue relates to voter accessibility. A polling booth will be placed in every community that has more than 100 registered voters.

Officials are also working to ensure communities have access to mail-in ballots if voters are worried about travelling to vote amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

'I felt that this was very important,' says officer

Miranda Cain is the liaison officer for Black Nova Scotian communities. She said it is going to take a while to gain trust back in these communities.

"Once you feel like you're part of a project or a part of a process, we're more engaged in interacting with it," she said. "I felt that that was very important and I felt that I could pull this into the African-Nova Scotian community."

Merilees said the work being undertaken is part of a long-term goal.

"This is the first step for us to be able to make these contacts and it's something that we're hoping to do post-election as well, because we can't just come in every four years and say, 'Hello, we're here,'" he said.

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