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What you need to know about November’s NWT election

A sign directs voters to their polling station. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
A sign directs voters to their polling station during the 2019 territorial election. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

As the Northwest Territories’ general election draws closer, here’s what you need to know about how and when to vote, and what happens next.

In case you missed it, MLAs unanimously passed legislation to delay the election during an emergency sitting in August. At the time, the majority of the territory’s population remained displaced by wildfires.

Election day had originally been set for October 3. Now, residents will head to the polls on November 14.

This year, the territory is using what it calls a trial “vote anywhere” model. That means voters from smaller communities can cast a ballot for their home district even if they’re in Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Smith or Inuvik, and not the district in question.

To vote in a smaller district from one of those larger communities, you’ll need to head to the Office of the Returning Officer in one of those four hubs between October 24 and November 11.



“This model ensures ease of access to voters from smaller communities who may be temporarily located in one of the NWT’s larger centres,” Elections NWT stated, “or for those who live closer to a large centre than the community where their returning officer is located.”

How to vote

You don’t have to wait until polling day to vote.

Advance voting at offices of returning officers across the territory will take place during office hours between October 24 and November 11. Advance polls for communities without a returning officer will take place on November 7.

Other options for casting a ballot include online voting, voting by mail and mobile polls.



Anyone wishing to vote online or by mail can apply for an absentee ballot between October 3 and November 4. If you ask to vote by mail, you’ll receive a paper ballot. If you want to vote online, you’ll receive a personal identification number and a link to the Elections NWT website.

Online and mail-in ballots must be received by Elections NWT before 8pm on November 14. (For mail-in voting that means you’ll have to mail your completed ballot back in advance of election day).

Elections NWT said mobile polls are meant for voters who are unable to physically attend a polling station on election day. Voters can apply for this option by contacting their returning officer between October 31 and November 3. Mobile polls will be administered between November 7 and November 10.

Voter eligibility

Canadian citizens who are at least 18 years old on polling day and have been a resident of the NWT for six consecutive months are eligible to vote.

You can check to see if you are on the voters list, register or update your information on the Elections NWT website.

During the election period, Cabin Radio will have full election coverage including a comprehensive list of who’s running and interviews with every candidate we can reach. If there are topics you’d like to see addressed, please send us a message.

In the NWT’s consensus system of government, residents don’t choose the premier or the ministers that will sit in cabinet over the next four years.

Instead, the 19 people elected on November 14 will gather to form what is called the Territorial Leadership Committee.



Through what is usually a system of secret ballots, the 19 newly elected (and in some cases re-elected) MLAs will first choose a premier and six other members of the cabinet. The new premier will then decide which cabinet member becomes minister of which departments.

A calendar published by the Legislative Assembly suggests the Territorial Leadership Committee is set to meet twice after the election: once on November 30, at which a new premier may be chosen, and again on December 7.

Cabinet will face public questions from regular MLAs for the first time when the legislature reconvenes in February next year.