Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Electoral Nightmare

I’ve decided that I don’t like Election Day. In fact, I hate the whole voting thing altogether.

Now before you begin sharpening up your pitchforks and pre-lighting your pyres, it’s not the democratic system that I have the problem with it’s the whole elaborately detailed electoral process we are forced to go through in order to cast our votes.

C’mon, this isn’t Pakistan – this is Canada!

The whole “voters anxiety” thing begins for me the moment I walk into the public school auditorium where my local polling station is situated. Maybe it’s a reaction to some long forgotten memory of being gang-wedgied in the change room in Grade Four, or the harsh memory of having forgotten my lines in the Christmas play and pissing myself right there in that very auditorium. Whatever the case, the moment I pass through those front wooden doors of the auditorium I begin sweating like the pig that knows he’s dinner.

It’s like I’m walking through the revolving doors of some Old West saloon ready to confront trigger-happy banditos. Except as I enter, it’s pairs of gray-haired seniors wrapped in checkered shawls protectively hunched over their polling cards and suspiciously eying you in case you ever attempted to sneak at peak at anyone else’s ballot. Do not underestimate these harmless looking polling clerks; they’re part electoral officer, part ninja. They may look like residents at some retirement village but they’d sooner throw themselves on a grenade than ever risk exposing your vote to prying eyes.

And they take voting very seriously boy!

Don’t ever try to make small talk with them or attempt anything guised as humor. You can just tell by the way they look you up and down as you approach their polling booth that they’re sizing you up for potential weaknesses lest you should be thinking of committing some heinous act of terrorism. They’d puncture your juggler with their ballpoint and have you booked on the next flight back to Moscow before you hit the floor.

You’re here to vote, motherfucker…and don’t you forget it.

Then it gets a bit confusing.

After taking what seems like ages to locate your name on their polling list they hand you a card, a pencil, and shoo you away again over to another polling booth in the distance to cast your vote.

I, however, made the mistake of just trying to cast my vote right there at the table in front of them and judging by their reactions, this was akin to dousing myself in kerosene and setting myself on fire. Both polling officers recoiled in terror at almost having witnessed where I placed my ‘X’. One of them actually reached out quickly and snatched the pencil from my hand before my offending vote could ever be cast, oh the horror!

“You must cast your ballot behind that wall over there”, he explained. “We can’t ever be allowed to see your vote”.


What would happen exactly if they somehow accidentally saw for whom you voted? Would they shrivel up and turn into dust like a vampire exposed to the sun? Would they be hauled away by government officials and sent to some remote electoral gulag in northern Greenland? Whatever, they seemed to be very animate that I must cast my vote behind a two-foot wall set up on a smaller table another 10 ft. away in the corner.

I ambled over behind the wall and without hesitation cast my vote. But not before attempting to engage the election officers in a quick game of peek-a-boo from behind my two-foot voting barricade…to no avail of course. I folded up my ballot as best I could and headed back to the polling station again feeling rather proud of myself* when I was informed that I had folded the ballot wrong.


Everything started to go all ‘Orange Alert’ very quickly. I started to panic and expected the storm troopers to begin rappelling in through the auditorium windows at any moment. Surely this was the last thing I would ever do as a member of the free world before being shipped off to Guantanamo.

Instead, the electoral officer gingerly took my ballot and unfolded it slowly and carefully with her head turned in the opposite direction the entire time. You’d think that there was a good chance that the ballot was going to blow up in her face if she happened to cast eyes on it. She then delicately refolded it and handed it back to me with a notable sigh of relief.

You’d think she’d just defused a bomb or something.

Look, lady…do you want my vote or an origami swan?

Anyway, I tucked it neatly into the ballot box where it disappeared for good much to the satisfaction of my electoral officers. As I left the premises I couldn’t help but feel that the whole process had seemed rather exaggerated and too shrouded in mystery. I think the election process should be simplified somewhat.

Forget all the secret ballot hocus-pocus let’s get more interactive. You could have all your riding candidates for each party lined up on stage and we, the voters, are invited to walk up and kick our chosen candidate square in the quiones where it’s recorded for all posterity by an electoral officer.

Why such a harsh voting method you ask? Well, two reasons actually. One: casting a vote by kicking your candidate in the Charlie Brown’s would serve as a warning and pertinent reminder to keep their campaign promises once elected. And two: anybody willing to be repetitively nailed in the junk really wants to be in politics, and not because it’ll help booster more t-shirts sales at the next clan rally.

It may be a tad medieval, but I believe it would work. It would certainly help get me out to the polling stations!

And who did I vote after all you ask?

Green. That’s who.

I figure that even if they only manage to save a few trees or preserve some a few extra acres of prime snowy owl habitat they may be just become the first party in recent Canadian Election history to ever keep one of their campaign promises.

* I almost flashed them my ballot just to see their reaction but I thought better of it.