Wednesday, November 15, 2006
riding the voting high
I'm not gonna lie, I love to vote. And I'm not talking silly little polls you find on websites, I'm talking real honest to goodness heading to the polls and marking an X on a ballot. I get a thrill like no other and I can't put my finger on just what it is but I get *very* excited when I start seeing signs going up on every street corner signalling an upcoming election. It's like I know a party is coming and I'M going to be invited.

Recently I noticed signs going up and annoying political fliers showing up on my doorstep. I knew an election was coming up though I knew not what for. Is that terrible? What's really terrible is that I didn't care, I just wanted to get to the polls. I tried to pay attention to the signs and what colour (read: what party) went with each name, but I had no idea what the platform was for any of the candidates let alone what the election was really for. I assumed it was local municipal elections.

Monday was the big night and off I went to my designated polling station (the local community centre, where I have voted before) and I had my little voting notice in hand that I got in the mail, which tells me the when and where and what district I'm in. I was giddy on the phone with my sweetie as I tried to explain how very much I loved to go vote. I don't think anyone quite understands, I've now learned.

My heart raced with excitement as I headed down the hall to the gymnasium and entered the room to find tables set all around with little old ladies waiting to help me. I saw the table labeled "Ward 5" (c'est moi) and I was happy to see there was no one ahead of me. I scurried over and eagerly handed my voting notice/card to the nice lady and glanced around the table. "Let's see.... blue..... celestial.... ah yes, celestial blue, here you are" she said as she checked my name off the list. At that point I noticed something on the table I had not seen in any prior elections.... black folders on the table labeled "Secrecy Folder". GLEE!!! "WOW!" I exclaimed "SECRECY folders, hunh?? Very exciting!!". She didn't even so much glance at me as she got my ballot ready and said "Oh yes, everything here is very secret". She took my ballot, a regular sized sheet of paper, and slipped it into one of these mysterious black folders. She informed me I could go over to that polling station and that I was to only use the marker that is supplied to mark the ballot. I made some excited remark about the fact that I was provided a chair so I could sit and really consider my options, but she seemed less than amused. Undeterred I bounced over the polling booth and plunked myself down. (btw, am I the only one bothered by the fact that the lady didn't ask me for ID??)

The little pseudo-wall they put up to provide you with some sense of privacy had instructions, in English and French, on what was to be done (and NOT done). When I finished marking my ballot I was to slide it back into the folder so that the votes were hidden but the (enumerator's?) signature at the top was visible. I was excited again by being part of this top secret ritual and pulled the ballot out to have a look at my options.


They didn't put the party next to the names! In one election they had taped a "cheat sheet" to the pseudo-wall so I could at least refer to it to see who was with what party, but I didn't even get that this time. I was going to have to vote solely based on name. At that point I started to feel like a bit of a bad citizen for voting based entirely on how I felt about a name, but it's not like that's a new concept and it certainly wasn't going to stop me from enjoying the moment. Shrugging, I proceeded to read each name under my breath to see how I felt as each rolled off the tongue. One guy definitely sounded Greek or something and I was enthralled by the idea that he actually had an X in his name (how often does that happen??) but ended up voting for some guy who had a Scottish sounding name. With the right roll of the R it sounded good to me. I also voted for some woman who had the same last name as me (slightly different spelling) because.. well come on, how could I not?

When I was done my super scientific selection I stood up and walked to the end of the gym (as directed by the first lady) and handed my secrecy folder to some other woman (with yet another woman who was clearly assigned to stand and just watch) and I had to stand there while she slide the top half of my ballot into this magical machine. My ballot was sucked in, never to be seen again. Of course, this was all just about more than I could handle in terms of excitement and when I was handing the folder to the lady I blurted out, with great enthusiasm "This is SOME crazy exciting process, hunh?? I love it!!!". She gave a bit of a chuckle, which was the closest I had to any kind of understanding from anyone the whole night.

So what's my point? None I guess, other than I love to be a part of democracy. My parents had instilled in my brother and I that it was important to vote, always. In my mind I look at it as a right for which people have fought and died so I had best make sure I pay my respect by being a part of the democracy. And let's face it, I love the process of it all even if it takes all of 4 minutes, if you really drag it out. But I tells ya, it will likely be the highlight of my whole week.

P.S. the guy with the X in his name came in third place.