Thursday, September 12, 2013

Election Night

Hi everyone! Just a few thoughts from my weekend here, but as of today I won't be blogging again until at least the second week of October. My thesis is currently more than a full time job, and I just can't afford to be writing anything else. I hope you'll all come back when I start writing with some frequency again.

On Saturday, I got up very early and went to a local polling place to work for the Australian Electoral Commission. Australians had to vote on Saturday for a federal government (it's compulsory to vote here, at all levels of government) and the conservatives came crashing in.

It's a long day, working a polling booth. My job as a 2IC is a sort of catch all position, basically anything that the manager needs to palm off. I was working quite a small booth this time around, and my manager was up to the task, so the day could have been a lot worse. 

We don't have it perfect here. The Senate voting paper is ridiculously complicated, especially for people who don't speak English (my electorate and the one I was working in have a much higher number of non English speakers than most), and the turnout was much lower than it should have been. But as I lined up to vote on Friday afternoon at a pre-polling venue, I couldn't help but get choked up at what I was about to do.

We vote in peace, without harassment (unless you count party workers, which I don't - usually). The AEC is mostly a well oiled machine, with pencils and paper so no defective machines for us. Rarely do you have to wait more than half an hour to vote anywhere in the country. There are sausage sizzles and lamingtons on offer at little stalls at many venues, fundraisers for the local sporting team or school. 

As the sign on every voting screen said, your vote is a valuable thing. Democracy, for all its faults, is a beautiful thing. And even though I hate the administration who just came in, I still feel strongly that our system of government and the way people are elected is one of the best going. It is a privilege and a responsibility that I cherish, and I exercise my right to choose with pride.   

Some time soon I will vote overseas, perhaps in an embassy, while I'm on a fellowship or a research trip. I can't wait, just like the little kids who eagerly push their parents' votes into the overflowing ballot boxes every election day. I remember doing the same when I was little, and I still poke mine through gleefully. My vote matters, and it's a personal, beautiful thing. 


  1. I love those floater positions. You get to see and learn a lot more about how things work.

    1. It was more that we had some crappy people, so I ended up doing their jobs. But we also had a couple of great people, so it (kind of) evened out.

  2. I remember our discussions on the Spooks Forum about elections, I always find it so interesting the differences between countries, in Spain we vote on Sundays and I thought that was the case in all coutries (silly me, talk about Americans thinking they're the centre of the universe). And then I watched The West Wing and you get a sneak peek of what it's like over in the US.

    We don't have machines to vote, we still do it the old way, your ballot paper (thanks for this word to TWW ;)) in the envelope and inside the box. Democracy is a good thing, I don't know in Australia, but in Spain there's still a long way to get to a real Democracy, but at least your vote counts!

    What's AEC??

    And again, I'm sorry for the new administration, we have a crappy one here right now, and I'm sure yours won't be as bad. x


    1. The Australian Electoral Commission - I mentioned it at the start. They supervise all the goings on for the federal election every few years.

      We have state electoral commissions too, but they supervise local and state elections. No overlap.

    2. Oh dear... Still sleepy I think.


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