For those of you following UK politics, you'll know that Gordon Brown's Labour Government is in trouble. The Tories won the London mayoral election, and Labour lost a number of council elections, its worst performance in 40 years.
What does this have to do with you and me?
I voted, innit! I was a part of it all!
As a citizen of the Commonwealth, I was on the voters list. I'm not an Brit citizen. I'm not even a permanent resident. I'm just a dolphin gambolling about the cold English waters. But there I was, with an election card and a burning desire to vote.
On election day, I waddled over to my polling station- a primary school. Amidst the surreal post-modern art of 3-year olds on display, sat two young women with the electoral roll. Trembling with excitement (not), I mumbled my address. My name was duly found, crossed off the list and I was handed three ballot papers and sent to a corner to exercise my franchise. Having listened to the radio, my Mayoral choice was easy peasy, and I boldly marked my first and second preferences. But what to do about the council elections? I almost voted for the party with the most interesting symbol, until I realised that I had no idea what they believed in, and could possibly be the party that wanted to stop the influx of us brownies.
Brownie- what a nice way to refer to South Asians. We're brown, sweet and irresistible. Also we're chewy, sometimes nutty and can be hard to swallow.
Finally, I voted for the party that (I think) shares my idealogical preferences.
The ballot sheets were slipped into a ballot box- i.e. a cardboard box with a slit. No Electronic Voting Machine! Even more disappointingly, no indelible ink marks were made on my forefinger and I regretfully left the station. Outside, an apple-cheeked old lady wearing party colours and knitting in the sunshine checked me off a list.
Ruminating on the walk home, here are my questions-
1 How do they prevent fraud? All you need to do is quote an address. No finger mark (Look, with a spot I damn him) to prevent proxy voting. The answer- yes, fraud does occur.
2 Is it fun without Clinton v. Obama style tense debates, ballot box stuffing, jab tak rahega samose main aloo etc? No, but heads aren't broken, and large sums aren't wasted which is a good thing.
3 What makes some countries give voting rights to temporary residents? And others rescind them from convicted criminals?
4 Democracy, in its Greek cradle was direct. Is there any point to the representational exercise at all, with its manifestos only for elections and influence from lobbying groups?
Such seditious thoughts in one so (relatively) young..