The chamber of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. Jaahnlieb/Dreamstime
An election period of four weeks and one day has begun in the Northwest Territories, with polling day on November 14.
The territory will elect 19 MLAs in a month’s time, then those MLAs will separately vote for a premier and a cabinet of six more people.
The new premier should be decided by the end of November 30, with an accompanying cabinet unveiled on December 7. MLAs choose the cabinet members but the premier decides who gets which portfolio.
Tradition dictates the next premier should be from somewhere other than Yellowknife, as the outgoing Caroline Cochrane was the MLA for Range Lake. (That tradition has been broken a bunch lately – Cochrane directly replaced another Yellowknife premier, Bob McLeod, in 2019, while McLeod himself unusually held the role for two terms, so the top job hasn’t been out of Yellowknife since 2011.)
Cabinet is usually chosen on the basis that two come from Yellowknife, two from northern districts of the NWT and two from southern districts.
Before any of that, the NWT has to elect its next set of 19 MLAs.
The regular MLAs who formed the 19th Legislative Assembly from 2019 to 2023 are now formally out of office, with their email addresses deactivated. Any of them choosing to seek re-election can’t use government-purchased equipment like laptops to do so.
Cochrane and her cabinet will hold on to their ministerial roles until the first sitting day of the 20th Assembly, in case any urgent actions need to be taken.
Over the weekend, several prospective candidates were going door-to-door in their districts of choice to acquire the 15 nominators’ signatures needed for them to run. Those signatures, a form and a $200 deposit must be submitted to Elections NWT between Monday and Friday this week.
Following the 2pm Friday deadline, candidates will have three hours to decide if they want to drop out, after which the ballots for each district will be finalized.
Meanwhile, Elections NWT said on Friday it is still recruiting deputy returning officers and poll clerks in some parts of the territory as it prepares for the administrative burden of polling day and the weeks leading up to it.
Residents don’t have to wait until polling day to vote. Online voting is an option, as are more traditional forms of advance voting such as absentee ballots or voting in the office of the returning officer. Votes can technically be cast as early as October 24.