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Nova Scotian voters to decide fate of first Atlantic NDP government

Premier Darrell Dexter votes in the Nova Scotia provincial election in Cole Harbour, N.S., near Halifax on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013.

Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Nova Scotia voters are casting their ballots today in an election that will decide the fate of Atlantic Canada's first NDP government.

The polls opened at 8 a.m. (AT) and close at 8 p.m.

NDP Leader Darrell Dexter is hanging his hopes on what he believes was a large block of undecided voters in the final days of the 31-day campaign.

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After voting today in his suburban riding in the Halifax area, Dexter said he is happy with the party's campaign.

"I'm feeling great," said Dexter, who walked hand-in-hand with his wife into the polling station at a church.

"We've got great campaigns on the ground and everyone today will be busy working hard to get the vote out and that's what election day is all about. Everything builds to this day."

Dexter conceded he was feeling some nerves.

"Anybody who isn't nervous on election day, they're out of touch with reality," said Dexter with a laugh.

"Everybody's nervous on election day."

As the campaign came to a close, Dexter asked voters to allow him time to finish what he started, citing jobs that are around the corner from a program to build navy warships in Halifax, a budget that's balanced for this fiscal year, and fewer emergency room closures in rural parts of the province as evidence of his government's achievements.

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In its campaign ads, the NDP has warned that progress could be at risk under a Liberal government led by Stephen McNeil, a theme Dexter repeated to the end.

Dexter began the campaign calling himself the underdog to McNeil's front-running Liberals.

McNeil cast his vote in a small community hall outside Bridgetown with his wife and two grown children.

"Now it's up to the voters," said McNeil. "Regardless of the result tonight I'm very proud of our team and what we did and there was nothing left for us to do."

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie voted last week.

McNeil, Dexter and Baillie all spent time campaigning in Halifax on Monday, where a large batch of seats is available. In recent elections, the city has become an electoral fortress of support for the NDP.

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While acknowledging that he'd like to win seats in the province's largest metropolitan area, McNeil said his party will need to win ridings across the province if it is to end its run of 14 years without power.

McNeil, whose commitments include less government spending and a cut to the harmonized sales tax as long as the books are balanced, wrapped up a three-day tour where he visited all but a handful of the province's 51 ridings before ballots are cast.

Baillie also travelled Monday to his hometown of Truro, which was once a Tory stronghold.

He agreed with Dexter that there was a large group of undecided voters across the province going into election day, but he believes they have decided to get rid of the governing NDP.

"They're now looking at the two choices they have, the PCs and the Liberals," Baillie said.

Baillie, whose main promises include frozen power rates and tax cuts, said his party is offering the province a brighter future with more jobs.

The NDP held 31 seats in the legislature when the election was called, followed by the Liberals with 12 and the Tories with seven.

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