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.