So the day of national voting has come and gone again, and as per usual (I haven’t missed a vote, national, provincial or municipal since I first became eligible), May 7th saw me join the throng of people gathering outside of Gordon’s Bay Primary School in order to make my mark.
Chantelle and I had come up with a plan, which basically saw one of us head out to vote while the other stayed at home with the kids, reversing the roles when the first one was done. Although my original plan had been to go in the evening when I would be guaranteed no waiting queue whatsoever (Gordon’s Bay is nice and small like that), my impatience got the better of me and so I nipped out after 10:00am, parking on the opposite side of the primary school (again the voting station I got assigned to) so as to not have to battle people for a parking spot. (Chantelle gets very annoyed with this habit of mine – I’m quite happy to literally park miles from somewhere – without first scouting the target destination – just so as to be assured of getting a parking!)
Anyway, I strolled across to the other side of the school and noticed the small queue of people at the door leading into the school, a gap, a table, and then a substantially longer queue of people waiting for the table. Now I’ve been in the game long enough to know that the table is one of two things – either for checking that you are meant to be voting at this particular station, or a political party trying the best to persuade you to change your mind last minute. Knowing this, I deftly hopped in at the back of the short queue.
Needless to say, I immediately felt bad, knowing full well how annoyed I would have been if I had been in the long queue and just seen some fat idiot ‘jump the line’. Now feeling the glare of a thousand imaginary eyeballs burning into my back, I, without so much as turning back to look at the long queue, feigned disinterest, abandoned the line, and marched back up the road, all the way to my car in order to regroup and feel better about myself once more.
I quickly came up with a sensible plan to save my dignity – pop over to the nearby Spar to pick up a bag of peanuts and some water for the wait, then go park at the Woolworths down the road from the school, and saunter up from that direction to join the back of the long queue – that way I would be guaranteed of no one recognising me once I had magically ‘reappeared’ at the voting station.
It worked! (And I happily queued – with peanuts, raisins and some water – for what felt like forever to get to the voting booth).
Actually, the only reason the queue took so long was because the IEC officials took it upon themselves to constantly look out for old or infirm people in the queue in order to pluck them out and march them straight to the front of the line, which is of course a problem if you think about it – you’re taking the slowest possible specimens and placing them at the front of the queue, thereby slowing down the entire system. And by continuously shuffling the queue to place the slowest members at the front, well, I think you can see what I’m getting at! :)
Anyway, my turn did eventually arrive, and I have to say, the process was as smooth as silk.
My ID book was scanned and stamped, my name was ticked off the list, I received my ballots, and got my thumb marked (sadly, as I withdrew my hand and the lady withdrew her indelible ink pen, my other hand brushed the nib – meaning a nice long streak along my other thumb!). Now at the little booth, I took my time to scan through the options for both national and provincial, made my mark, folded the papers and neatly deposited the papers into the correct boxes.
Outside, hands in my pockets, 1.5 hours later. (But really, I did extend my own ordeal with all that parking, walking and shopping detours, so no harm done.)
Naturally, when Chantelle got around to her turn to vote, she was in and out in five minute. Figures.
The only gripe that I have is that there really isn’t a political party that I WANT to vote for. No charismatic leader with the right values and a good sense of problem solving that I want to install as the leader of our country. Instead, I have to vote along the lines of what I know – I stay in the Western Cape, it runs smoothly and is well governed, hence a vote to keep the status quo – i.e. the Democratic Alliance (DA). (Despite the fact that their intrusive SMS and e-mail campaign annoys the hell out of me!)
Seriously, I can’t wait for the day when we have some younger, more idealistic options to choose from, maybe our very own South African Barack Obama perhaps?
Oh well, for now I shall continue to do my bit to ensure that no one party every has a two thirds majority every again. That’s just asking for trouble!
[EDIT: Oh wow, just spotted this 2009 post of mine - looks like my voting sentiment was exactly the same last time around!]