Nova Scotia Business Inc. has invested a further $800,000 in Dartmouth e-voting outfit Intelivote Systems Inc., helping the company to enhance its product line, market its services and possibly find a buyer.

The industrial agency said Friday its venture capital unit, headed by Peter MacNeil, increased its investment in the e-voting concern to $2.8 million, following on from two previous investments worth $1 million each.  Intelivote also raised money from the First Angel Network early in 2010.

Intelivote has one of the most advanced electronic voting systems in the world, able to lower the costs of holding an election while allowing citizens to vote by phone, internet, or in person.

Chairman and founder Dean Smith said in an interview today the company will use the money to expand some services and also to position itself to reap a rich crop of municipal elections in B.C. and Ontario in 2014. Though there is about $18 million in business in those two provinces in two years’ time, the process of meeting with municipal councils, committees and civil servants is extensive and costly.

This year, Intelivote will handle 15 municipal elections in Nova Scotia, including all-electronic polls in Truro, Yarmouth, Digby and three other jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, the company is courting several major competitors about a possible partnership, which may involve Intelivote selling out. It hopes to secure as many large contracts as possible in the next year or two so it would be able to exit at an attractive price in the event of a sale.

“We’ve had preliminary discussions with a lot of companies in the last two years and we want to make sure there is a proper fit,” he said.

The main competitors include Everyone Counts of San Diego, whose sales director Stephen Beamish is a former consultant to Intelivote, and Dominion Voting of Toronto.  Though the Spanish company Scytl Secure Electronic Voting has also won several contracts in Canada, it seems highly unlikely the two could work together. Scytl undercut Intelivote in pricing to win the HRM election this year, and the Spanish company also handled the NDP leadership vote in the spring, which was hampered by technical difficulties.

Though the Intelivote system is a market leader, Smith said that the potential buyers are mainly interested in the company’s staff of eight, because they understand the delivery process so well.

He added that if there is a sale, ``nobody here will leave the province.’’

One person who is moving on from Intelivote is CEO Bill Parsons, a veteran of the M&A department at xwave Solutions. Smith said Parsons likes to focus on international markets whereas Intelivote’s focus for the next two years will be on Canada, and has taken a C-level position at another company.

 (Disclaimer: The principals of Entrevestor are small shareholders in Intelivote.)