I worked at a polling booth in New Zealand’s general election yesterday.
Armed with two training sessions, a bright orange jerkin, and my manual, I turned up at the Muritai School auditorium yesterday at 7:45am yesterday morning for a day of Democracy In Action.
I won’t blog the whole long day. Instead, three reflections:
It is just remarkable how quickly a room can be turned into a instrument of democracy through the quick erection of a cardboard army of voting booths, information stands and ballot boxes. Cardboard is amazing.
People are fascinating
I spent most of my day at the door of the polling booth. Greeting people, helping the flow of the voters to issuing officers, special votes, answering questions, offering stickers to voters and their children to say that they had voted. People’s attitude shone through in these brief interactions. Largely they fell into these groups:
- Totally stoked – happy to be there, happy to be voting. These people were often disproportionately happy to be offered a sticker – like it was the icing on a particularly delicious cake.
- Angry at the world – “Those stickers are a waste of taxpayers money. Stop giving them out to everyone!”, “I think I can remember I voted, thank you very much”. These people would snort derisively when I offered them a sticker.
- Otherwise engaged – These people were not unpleasant, they were just not interested or present to their surroundings. They barely engaged with me when I offered them a sticker.
Question: what would our society be like if children had the vote?
Overheard in Muritai School playground during my break:
Six year old: I want to go vote.
Other six year old: You’re too young! It’s illegal.
Four year old: Where’s the boat?
First six year old: There’s the voting sign! Let’s go vote!
Gang of children run off happily in direction of polling booth