Improvements to the Municipal Elections Act will make voting easier for Nova Scotians. The proposed amendments introduced today, Nov. 16, will update the act in time for 2012 municipal and school board elections. “The proposed changes will ensure that as many eligible voters as possible can participate in the election process, said John MacDonell, Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. “We’re updating the act to reflect the reality of today’s voters, ensure the voting process is fair and protect the interests of all Nova Scotians.” The act now says single students must vote where the family home is located. The proposed change would allow students to vote where they now live, as long as they meet the three-month residency requirement. “Allowing students to choose whether or not they vote at home or at school is a huge step forward for making young people full and valued citizens within their communities,” said Mark Coffin, executive director, Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations. “The old legislation made it very difficult for a young person to participate in local government. This legislation makes it much easier.” Another amendment, requested by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, will broaden the provisions for electronic voting. Municipalities, if they wish, may allow for the use of electronic voting without the need for traditional ballots. However, the amended legislation will require municipalities to offer residents another method to vote if they go with Internet voting. “The Town of Windsor used e-voting in the previous municipal elections. E-voting is the way of the future,” said Paul Beazley, Mayor of Windsor. “Not only does it encourage younger people to vote but it allows those who are unable to get out to vote to do so by other means. We want to encourage as many people to vote as possible, in the ways most convenient to them.” Under another proposed amendment, village commissioners and municipal councillors would no longer be able to serve on both organizations at the same time. “We are pleased with the proposed change being brought forward as it will ensure fairness for everyone,” said Lewis Benedict, chair of the Association of Nova Scotia Villages. The province’s 21 villages are all part of rural municipalities, and the potential for conflict of interest exists when people hold both positions. Village commissioners would be required to leave their position before running for municipal council and the same would apply to municipal councillors.