I like to think I know a few things about politics. On election day, I'll be saddling into work and strolling around the place, reporting on Democracy Snags and the election count.
But actually doing the whole voting thing is daunting. I've been meaning to pre-poll since it opened, but on day one I saw a young guy absolutely mobbed by people wielding how-to-vote cards and, like I do with every 'adult' thing in my life, I put it off.
Finally, I did my research, knew who I wanted to vote for, and decided not to delay any longer.
I see the first two people, dressed up like billboards.
"Voting today?" asks a Shooters, Fishers and Farmer's volunteer, while the other does away with pleasantries and implores me to vote for the Nationals.
I break the golden rule by making eye contact. "Uhhh… yeah, I am," I say to the first volunteer while pushing through them like I'm escaping someone who won't stop talking about Elon Musk at a party, and come face-to-face with someone else.
"Vote 1 Christian Democrats," the woman cries at me.
Someone else throws a flyer in my face but I'm in fight-or-flight mode and I don't even see what colour the flyer is, let alone who owns the hand attached to it.
I turn away and half walk, half sprint to the door, the yawning safety of the electoral office's lights shimmering like a homing beacon.
Out of the corner of my eye I see an amorphous blob of green and red and yellow and blue shirts start assembling. If I stand here for a second longer I'll be pecked at like a mango being attacked by brightly-coloured parrots, each cawing eerily similar phrases.
They've seen the fear in my eyes and are closing in for the kill.
I turn and look back at the Christian Democrats lady, who's holding her how-to-vote card out like it's someone trying to rid themselves of a Parramatta Eels membership in round three, and flee.
The sound of a second, slightly more desperate, pleading wail of "Vote 1 Christian Democrats" follow me as I head in the safety of the electoral office.
Inside, I'm summoned to a desk which has half the Amazon stacked on it, and am handed a sheet of paper big enough to wrap around myself like a toga for the Legislative Council, dwarfing the nine-person local vote.
To re-phrase a Lionel Hutz-ism, this is the biggest piece of paper in Australian history. If you took it outside and merely thought about the wind, you'd suddenly find yourself paragliding. It wraps around the booth and is the single most overwhelming document I've ever laid eyes on.
A seven-step guide to running the pre-poll gauntlet:
- Know who you're going to vote for before you arrive
- Take a deep breath and walk confidently
- Don't make eye contact
- DON'T MAKE EYE CONTACT
- Panic because you made eye contact
- Don't stop walking
- Ignore anything said to you by volunteers. You've done your research and don't need their cards
I was prepared for the scrum. I was not prepared for this. How are there that many names on the Legislative Council sheet? Some of these names can't be real. I swear I saw a Guy Incognito, Mr Snrub and Joey Jo-Jo Jr Shabadoo on the list somewhere.
I'm reasonably up to date politically, but the Flux Party sounds like a disease. Who are they? Where are they from? Apparently, after some post-voting googling they're looking to implement some form of digital democracy.
And with pre-polling, you don't even get a snag.
Gosh democracy is exhausting. I need a lie down.
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