Thursday, May 01, 2008

God, I love the smell of voting in the morning…

I adore voting. It’s nothing to do with whether my candidate’s likely to win, nor even the fact that democracy is wonderful and all that. It’s just the experience of it.

The party tellers (been there, done that, of course) are unfailingly polite and mutually cooperative. You could sit Brown, Cameron and Clegg outside a polling station with notepads and I guarantee they’d be friends within a couple of hours.

The ballot paper, with its surprising middle names and hitherto-unnoticed minor parties. The faux-private ‘booth’. The wonderfully archaic stumpy pencils on municipal string.

And the ballot box itself. What a piece of design. Plain, calm, solid, no-nonsense.

My best voting experience ever was for the European Parliamentary election in 1999. It was on the day of my last final and, being at Oxford, I had to dress like a posh tit. The informal tradition added to this look is that you wear carnations to your exams: white for the first, pink for the middle ones and red for the last. This meant that end result was that on the dot of 7.00am (dread and panic were regularly waking me before 6), I strode into the polling station down the road in full sub fusc with a Labour-coloured flower on my lapel.

I was the first voter of the day – the tellers were just setting up their chairs and my ballot paper was the first one torn off – and my outfit and timing clearly caused a bit of bemusement. But they were ready.

Then I went off to find some breakfast, half-heartedly cram, sit a rotten exam and get smashed.

This morning, though, I’ve had the unlikely pleasure of voting for both of my parents.


Andre said...

Good luck!

I love voting - this year was my first time. Unfortunately my party lost.

m said...

I think I prefer campaigning over voting.

Is there an alcohol ban/restriction on elections days in England?

Tom Freeman said...

There's no limit to how much you can drink and vote.

Well, my folks didn't win but then they never expected to - been a Lib Dem areas for years. But they came very decent seconds. Huzzah!

Andre said...

I've just seen the results on the Guardian.

Two Labour defeats for me in less than two months! I don't know whether I can take it!

Let's just hope you won't have to share in my misery and live under a Conservative government for long.

m said...

Sorry to hear about your parents, I thought that you meant you dropped their votes in the post? I'll be tested one of these days...