Municipal Elections

Election processes are the same for all municipalities and the procedures for general elections are guided by the Municipal Government Act (MGA), the Municipal Election Regulations, the Campaign Contributions and Election Expenses Bylaw Regulations, and the Plebiscite Regulations.  
The MGA and regulations describe election processes including running all day elections, holding advance polls, establishing election bylaws, qualifications of electors and candidates, alternative voting methods, procedures for nomination, acclamation and vacancies, campaign contributions, spending limits and disclosures as well as eligibility requirements for municipal employees seeking election to municipal council.
All municipalities must adopt a Campaign Contributions and Election Expenses Bylaw.  Municipalities can include other election related rules in their Election Bylaw.  Be sure to check the municipality's election bylaw for additional rules.

When are municipal elections?

Each municipality will hold an all-day general election every four years.  Starting in 2018, municipal elections will take place on the first Monday in November with the exception of the Resort Municipality (whose council was elected by acclamation on August 3, 2018.  The next general municipal election will be held on Monday, November 5, 2018.

How do municipal elections take place?

Municipal councils must establish a bylaw for campaign contributions and election expenses that addresses contribution eligibility, campaign contribution limits, disclosure requirements and spending limits for the mayor and councillors.  
Councils can also include other areas in their Election Bylaw that allows them to conduct and oversee elections.  The Election Bylaw can:
  • divide the municipality into wards
  • establish an enumeration or registration system  to develop a voter’s list
  • set up mobile polling stations
  • allow for alternative voting methods (e.g. mail-in-ballots or electronic voting)
  • establish a higher number of nominators 
  • allow for other powers to be exercised in accordance with the Act
  • charge deposits. 

Municipal Councils are required to have their Election Bylaw in place (by September 5th, 2018) and appoint a Municipal Electoral Officer (MEO) and Deputy Municipal Electoral Officer (by May 14th, 2018).  

The timeline for the Election Bylaw and for determining the process to develop the list of electors was extended by Ministerial Order for the 2018 municipal election.  

The MEO will prepare for the municipal election and oversee the conduct of the election.  They are responsible for developing the list of electors, opening an election’s office, issuing the nominations notice, receiving nominations, having an advance poll, and ensuring all the proper processes are followed leading up to and on election day.  

Is my municipality divided into wards or is council elected at large?

A council may, by bylaw, divide a municipality into wards and allow council members to be elected on this basis. Mayors will continue to be elected at large. There are also requirements regarding eligibility, the total number of candidates that can be elected and the creation of an Electoral Boundaries Commission to review the wards every three years following a municipal election after the Act comes into force. 
Municipal elections will be at large if a municipality is not divided into wards.  Contact your municipality for more information.

What if there are not enough candidates nominated in the municipality?

The procedures and time periods for nominating a candidate, as well as declaring a candidate elected by acclamation, are described in the MGA. If fewer people are nominated as candidates than the number required to be elected to municipal council, additional time is allowed for nominating candidates. 
If there are not enough nominations received at the end of this time period to fill the vacancies on council, the nominated candidates are acclaimed and the Minister may appoint the required additional number of councillors as long as they are qualified to hold office and are residents of the municipality. The Minister may also recommend to the Lieutenant Governor and Council that the municipality be restructured as set out in another part of the MGA.
If there are just enough candidates nominated the end of the extended nomination period to fill the positions, the candidates are elected by acclamation and there is no election day.
When there are more candidates nominated than there are council positions, the advance poll and election day will occur as scheduled.  

Can municipal employees run for municipal council?

The requirements and procedures related to the eligibility and actions of an employee of a municipality who wants to seek election to municipal council are set out in the Act.  An employee who meets all the qualifications and requirements is eligible to be a candidate under the Act.  However, the Act requires that an employee apply for leave of absence without pay prior to declaring his or her candidacy and conditions regarding this process are set out in the Act.  
The Act also describes rules related to employee conduct and activity during an election and allows municipal councils to make bylaws that restrict specific types of municipal employees from participating in elections.

What are the key dates related to municipal elections?

  • May 14: Council appoints Municipal Electoral Officer (MEO) and Deputy MEO
  • September 5: Election Bylaws in place (revised date)
  • September 5: Process to develop list of electors in place (bylaw or service agreement) (revised date)
  • October 5: Nominations notice
  • October 9: Election office opens
  • October 10 – 19: Nominations period
  • October 19: Nomination day (notice of nominated candidates)
  • October 19 – 26: Extended nomination period (if required)
  • October 24: Election notice
  • November 3: Last day for advance poll
  • November 5: ELECTION DAY
  • November 19: Latest day for declaration day – official results
Note: This page is prepared for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specialized legal or professional advice.
Published date: 
June 5, 2018