Monday, May 2, 2011

Democracy, the gory nitty gritty details.

I just got home from doing my small part in the great democratic process. I was a scrutineer for the NDP, being there for the actual counting of the ballots.
More on the outcome in a moment, but first let's celebrate the process. If you want fair and transparent, it honestly does not get any better.

To begin with: we use paper ballots. No machines that can be hacked into, no dimples or hanging chads. Just a carefully folded piece of paper where X in a circle next to a candidate's name  marks the spot. Two poll clerks behind each table. Identify yourself, get your carefully folded ballot, go behind a screen to mark it, fold it up again, hand it to the clerk. She tears off a strip, hands it back to you, you put it into the slot in the ballot box.

At the end of the day every ballot, including the unused ones, has to be accounted for. There is an enormous amount of paper work.
At each poll station two official workers sit at one side of the table, two scrutineers (or more, if more parties are active) on the other side. The scrutineers and one of the poll clerks each have a tally sheet.

The box get upended on the table. So now we have a big pile of folded papers.
One of the poll clerks reads out each ballot, and puts it on a pile of ballots for that candidate. The scrutineers and the other poll worker, in a spirit of total co-operation, make sure the tally sheets are correct. No groans or cheers, just getting the job done.

In the microcosm of poll station 37, Nakusp, 400 ballots had to be accounted for.
Of those 400 a total of 217 actually used the vote, NOT good. Who are those 183 people who couldn't be bothered? The conservative candidate got 100, our NDP man 80, the Green 18, the Liberal 15, the Independent 4. Count the total. Yes, that's 217. Count the bundles of each candidate's actual ballots to make sure. Yes. Stuff them in an envelope.
Seal each envelope and have both clerks and both scrutineers sign the seal. There. Done. Try and corrupt that.

As for the outcome, as I had feared based on astrology, we have a conservative majority government. As could be expected from the old Moon in Taurus, the endless hammering on the theme "stability" resonated with the public. Besides, in Ontario the opposition was divided three ways.

The good news is that we now have a GREEN member of parliament. YEAH!!
Go Elizabeth go.

The other news is that, largely due to wins in Quebec, the NDP is now officially Her Majesty's Loyal  Opposition. Whether this is a good thing or not remains to be seen. For one thing too much came from emphasis on one charismatic leader.  Much as I like Jack Layton, the cult of personality ought to be discouraged.  Leader this, leader that. What about policy, vision? The other downside is that there will be pressure on Jack Layton to "reach out to the center". This would result in orphaning the left and an effective shift of the entire political spectrum to the right, which is exactly what has been happening in recent years.

Anyway.......interesting times are ahead. The corporate overlords are no doubt rejoicing. But the sheople are waking up. I hope.

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