Democracy festival

[How to vote card]
How to vote card. The placement of the picture of the sticker leaves the mildly amusing "Oral division of Aston" wording…

Well I’m certainly feeling a lot better, though I wouldn’t say I was back at 100% yet. The main feature of the flu that’s still hanging on is the cough, something which when I was back at work late in the week, I noticed has spread to most corners of the office. The kids aren’t too well, either.

Today I felt well enough to head out and join the throngs in the political circus, the Aston by-election. Yes, I was on the hustings, whatever they are. I stood around and handed out How To Vote cards for a few hours. From my observations, there are four kinds of voters:

  • those who accept any and all cards and leaflets from anyone. They comment (only half jokingly) about how they’re overwhelmed by all of them, but are prepared to take them all in the interests of democracy. When they get to the polling booth they throw them all away and vote for whoever they intended to vote for all along. Or they vote for whoever they intended to vote for, and bring them back and distribute them back to the campaigners afterwards.
  • those who accept some cards, glance at them and actually may use some of the information to decide how they’re voting. One group of four people were actually observed to sit down for a good few minutes and read all of them in-depth. Amazing.
  • those who don’t want any cards on principle because it’s all so much of a waste of paper.
  • those who don’t want any cards because they already know who they’re voting for, and ain’t no little bit of paper is going to change their minds.

One campaigner was particularly good, having mastered saying in a clear, calm, pleasing voice "Please vote for Chris Whatsisface, Liberal" as he thrust the brochure towards people. Another for the greens would go into a short spiel about what the Greens supported as she handed over the brochure, possibly cynically adding "justice for boat people" when the people looked like they might be immigrants.

During my stint at the second booth, I saw a familiar face arrive, that of Democrats candidate Pierre Harcourt, the guy I went to school with. I’m glad that it’s him who turned out to be the Democrats candidate. At least I know he’s a smart, decent bloke, unlike some of the people I went to school with. I said hello, and we had a good chat about old times.

I found out later chatting to my sister, that not only is he known in my sister’s circle of friends, but my sister also knows the Greens candidate. Which just goes to show, it really is a small world.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.