Restoring my faith in the electoral process

We voted yesterday in our state government elections.

We do it at our local primary school.  As usual, we had a cake stall, and there was the obligatory sausage sizzle run by the parents.

Politics in Australia, while not as crazy as it appears to be in some other democratic countries right now, does appear to be becoming more extreme and less democratic.  Plus we have people brokering preference deals with the parties for money, which to me is starting on a slippery slope downwards and helps to get some really crazy people elected. (Always vote below the line people, not above.)

I know we hear mostly bad news, but there were instances I read about on social media and in the newspapers of voters being harassed. 

A woman had one of the people handing out how-to-vote cards follow her into the polling place, and up to the booth where she was trying to vote. (This is absolutely not allowed, they have to remain a certain distance from the polling place.)

 Another did a postal vote at an overseas embassy, and the person accepting his vote checked his ballot. (Another absolute no-no.)  Not only that, they told him he’d voted wrong. (He’d voted below the line, not above.) No one but you sees what you put onto that ballot. You can put nothing on it if you like. It’s your choice. And if you do it wrong, that’s your problem.

 At least these issues are being caught and reported, but its till meant that when I went in to vote yesterday I wasn’t feeling that confident about our democratic future.

I got to the polling place, looked around for the people handing out how-to-vote cards.  They weren’t in the usual place.  Looked over, finally saw them, made my way across.

There were four people, all for different representatives.

“They’ve changed the law,” one of them said cheerfully. “We have to stay further back now.”

I collected my cards (leaflets, really), then joined the line.  It only took about ten minutes to get inside, but in that ten minutes I watched the four representatives be friendly to everyone as they handed out cards to new arrivals.  And when there was no one to hand out cards to, they talked and laughed together as a group.

I don’t know why it made such a difference, but it did.

I came away from the polling booth feeling better about democracy, and better about people in general.

I came away feeling hopeful.

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