As published by mX, 9 September 2013
“I’m a violent, paranoid schizophrenic”.
The 15 hour-long day of an AEC polling official certainly has its moments. This is how one lady of advancing years chose to introduce herself to a fellow ordinary vote issuing officer.
I’d never seen a real life Monty Python sketch before, until now. You see, the context in which the declaration voter made this startling declaration was that she was two people, and frankly, her identity was open for debate on 7 September 2013.
Having found one of her personalities on the electoral list, the polite, patient lad was drawn into an unwinnable ‘who’s on first’ style conundrum with the violent, paranoid schizophrenic. Ultimately she managed to lodge a vote, notwithstanding the whole experience, evidenced by her increasingly raspy breathing, was traumatising for reasons other than the dire choices in front of her.
The booth to which I’ve been assigned the past few elections is located in one of the, shall we say, less salubrious parts of an oft maligned northern suburb of Melbourne. A considerable percentile struggle with the basics of existence, if not the imminent lack thereof. Asking the obligatory ‘have you voted in this election before’ takes on an acute absurdity for the politically out of sight, out of mind battlers and new citizens for whom the physical and linguistic barriers to voting are immense. A dollar for every ‘once is enough, ha ha’ response would buy enough slabs of bitter ale to drown the sorrows of a nation.
As we come to grips with the Mad Monk steering the 12th largest economy in the world, it is clear we’ve all copped an unfair ‘shake of the sauce bottle’, as the now former PM would say. A microcosm of our political tumult is the dunny roll masquerading as the senate ballot paper. Major parties so dismally failing voters have given rise to the mad hatter Bob Katter, the Craaazy Billionaire’s Party and a plethora of one trick ponies, including piss-takers such as the Pirate Party. I look forward to the reincarnation of Screaming Lord Sutch and his Monster Raving Loony Party next time round, just so the few below-the-line-mark-all-boxes-1-97 obsessives can make a full day of their democratic delirium.
Surprisingly, there was less aggro demonstrated than previous elections, typically evident in terse roll marking exchanges, scrawled threats of anarchy, broken pencils and torn ballot papers. Such was the glaze-eyed resignation apparent on the maudlin line of despair, only one cock’n’balls was drawn on any of our several thousand ballot papers. Even then it was a half-arsed sketch that could have been mistaken for a Mexican sombrero.
Speaking of which, perhaps an ‘Afternoon Siesta Party’ has merit. We could all do with some quiet time to reflect on the lucky (for some) country we’ve become, and to dream of a day when our paranoid schizophrenic politicians ‘stop the games’ and grow the cock and balls to honestly govern for everybody in the here and now, and our future generations.