I look forward to growing Old and Wise and Audacious.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Time sneaks up.

Who would have thought that more than a year would pass since my last post. The more things change the more they stay the same; except of course our age where time sneaks up only to find the future once infinity is reality.

During the past Federal election and living in a rural BC riding where there is only a trace of liberal on the political GPS, I went to work for Elections Canada. The writ was dropped on my birthday September 7th and within 24 hours the Returning Office had the special ballots voters room ready to go. I along with 2 other people would work special ballots. It was agreed we would work 6 hour shifts over a 12 hour day. 9am-3pm and 3pm-9pm.I signed on for the 9am-3pm shift and quickly discovered it would be the busiest time of day for voters who were heading south or would be away because E day followed Canadian Thanksgiving.

There is a very high learning curve with National Electors, Local electors,Mail in ", ballots for National voters and another for Local Electors, acute care voters,home voters, a combination of all of the above on a daily basis until 6 days before E Day. I really enjoyed the experience and was awed by Elections Canada assistance to our riding, all 308 ridings were going through the same process.

Special ballots do not have the names of the candidates, they are simply a blank space where you write in the name of the person of your choice, place the ballot in a (inside) envelope which then is placed in an outside envelope which has the Electoral district, poll number and sequence number of the voter, the voter signs the outside envelope and the SBC signs.... the voter puts it in the ballot box, a little bit of time 3-5 minutes and painless for the voter.Once the candidates have been approved and the regular ballot is printed, the blank ballots are only used for any voting outside the office.

This riding had a very hard fought race going where the special ballots were used by their respective campaigns, keeping the Special Ballot Co-ordinate rs on a steady pen in hand filling in the forms" process.When I was asked if I would like to do the Home vote in the final days of Special Ballots, I agreed and found myself taking the ballots and ballott box out to private homes where people who were elderly, disabled and very ill could vote. This was once I'd finished the 6 hour shift at the desk in the office.

The last day allowed for the Home vote was the Tuesday before election day and I went off after planning my drive around 3 communities and the farmlands to collect these votes. It takes more time than you would think to drive around looking for addresses buzzing into apartments or driving along dirt roads long driveways into places you thought you knew but didn't. I'm grateful our RO had a retired realtor who could tell me where some of the addresses were located.

That day was a emotional day for me when I arrived at the first stop the gentleman who wanted so desperately to vote was in a hospital bed in his own home with his wife and son with him. He had celebrated his birthday the day before,once that was done he was slipping away, it took some time and allot of effort on his part but he was so grateful I had come to his home as was his wife and son. I had a wave of melancholy he reminded me of my father the day he died after his birthday. I saw the Obituary for this voter just 3 days after I had been, he died before election day.
the next few places were elderly folk who were happy to know they could vote from home, Then there was a woman who started in on me the moment I arrived, that I was late, she had phoned the RO and demanded a mail in ballot, who #@^%! was Ottawa sending a person like me to her home with a phoney ballot and there was no way she was voting without a scrutineer present and on, and on. I was so taken aback that I apologized for any misunderstanding, I showed her the ballot and she used a magnifying glass to make sure it was legal, she yelled at her husband. She voted without apology and I went on to complete my day of home votes.

The last place on the list was a farm house along way out in the country, there were nay vehicles parked around the yard, the family were gathered a week early for thanksgiving. The father sat wrapped in a blanket a gentle smile on his face and ready for his ballot, there was much laughter and gratitude as this was something he simply must do, once he placed his ballot envelopes in the box he patted me on the shoulder and thanked me for driving so far out, he died on October 16th a week later.

Time sneaks up, until there is no time.