Saturday, November 15, 2008

To the polling station in the retirement centre lobby, to do my civic duty. Long line-up. Total confusion. Peppy university-age kids, each equipped with a POLL CLERK nametag, attempting to explain both sides of the 8" x 14" ballot to folks with limited problem-solving skills.

BALLOT INSTRUCTIONS: Elect 1 Mayor, 10 Councillors, 7 Park Commissioners, 9 School Trustees. . . .

LOST WOMAN [gesturing at her entire ballot]: So I elect one of these people mayor?

POLL CLERK: No, just the names listed under "Mayor." These folks [indicating prospective "Councillors," "Park Commissioners" etc.] aren't running for mayor.

LOST WOMAN: Don't get snippy with me!

Line-up to receive a ballot and a special marking pen. Line-up for the flimsy cardboard "voting booths" that supposedly protect one's privacy and independent judgement.

CJB: Look, can I just mark my ballot in line and get out of here?


Argument between two guys marking their ballots ahead of me in the line-up:

OLD MAN [of younger man's choice for mayor]: He's a communist!

YOUNG MAN: Who asked you? Mind your own fucking business.

OLD MAN: I'm going to have you removed!

CJB: Sir. Could you dial it down, please? I'm trying to mark my ballot.

OLD MAN: You too! You...communist!

Vision Vancouver candidates. An NPA candidate. A Green Party candidate. Work Less Party candidates. COPE candidates.

Lineup for the automatic ballot-counting machine, currently DOA. Think R2D2 or a high school library photocopier, with various drawers opened, rollers rolled, circuitboards exposed, etc. Several POLL CLERKS hover anxiously nearby while a RETURNING OFFICER makes a frantic how-the-hell-do-I-fix-this? cell phone call to Election HQ.

GUY IN LINEUP: What do I do with my ballot?

POLL CLERK [indicating dark slot in defunct ballot-counting machine]: Just shove it in there.

CRANKY OLD MAN: This reminds me of the US of A! Dick Cheney's gonna steal this one for Peter Ladner! Just you wait!

IRATE LINEUP GUY: I'm not leaving until my vote is properly recorded!

CRANKY OLD MAN: Florida vote fraud. . .black helicopters...New World Order...barcodes...9/11...AntiChrist.

PREVIOUS OLD MAN [in background]: Communists!

CJB's SWEETIE "L." [waiting patiently, at the car]: So did you have fun voting?

CJB: What a gong show. The stuffed pussycats could run an election more effectively than the City of Vancouver.

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