Insights, Modern Life
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Poll Position

In China there are elections, but all the candidates are from the same party.

In Afghanistan, voters face physical intimidation and bribery before they even get to the polls, and corruption and electoral fraud once their votes are cast.

In Fiji the military leader cancels and postpones elections according to his own will.

In Australia last weekend, voters were asked to attend a polling station of their choice, at the time of their choice, select the candidate of their choice, and cast their ballot for the federal election.

Unfortunately, the mere privilege of having free elections appears lost on many voters as they are forced to give up half an hour of their Saturday to perform this duty once every 3 years or so. The contempt which is shown towards our electoral process only serves to highlight a self-centredness we rarely acknowledge.

“Let’s get this shit over with”, one wife said to her husband as they walked in through the school gates. Disgruntled constituents arrived to see moderately lengthy queues, scrunched up their faces and turned on their heels, muttering about how there’s no way they’re waiting that long, they’ve got better things to do.

“And who do you think is paying for all this?”, sulked another woman, observing the polling attendants, cardboard queue markers and ballot papers set out inside the hall. Heaven help us if there were no kind AEC staff to answer our ignorant questions, and no orderly queues so instead voters were forced to jostle for position to even get a ballot paper at all, knocking down pensioners and obliterating 18 year old voting virgins in the quest for the nearest booth.

I admit, the candidates on offer may not delight you with inspiration or vision, they may not even seem to stand for what you believe in. We all have a whinge about candidates’ ineptitude at least once during every campaign, give us ten minutes in the PM’s shoes and we’d have this country fixed quicker than you can say “vote 1, me!”

But, at least at the end of the day your vote will be counted and your voice, however small, will carry the same weight as everyone else’s. The vote counters and scrutineers will do their job long into the night (and sometimes for days afterward). Still, if this is too much democracy to handle, just go ahead and cast a donkey vote, and stick it to all of them. What better way to get your money’s worth.

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