If you are a poet or have a literary bent, do not read this. You are bound to be offended for:
This is the story of how one single mum
Pushed stroller and baby through the campaigning scrum
Queued up in the cold, having braved the fray,
And cast her vote on her first Election Day.
Have you survived thus far? I did warn you about the terrible rhyme. That’s what comes of staying up nights with a teething toddler. Imagine what I could do with eight straight hours of sleep! I imagine Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten are also having sleepless nights. At least, I’d like to think someone was losing sleep over an election that doesn’t seem to have resolved anything. I suspect though that the only person losing any sleep right now is the election commissioner or whoever occupies that position here in Australia.
Yes, I am now an Australian. Newly minted and proud to have voted. I must say that after all the build up to Election Day, the actual morning was quite a let down. Where was the sausage sizzle that my friends promised me? All I was offered was pamphlets and placards. “Bey,” said my toddler son hopefully, looking around for balloons – his current obsession, by the way. But no, my darling M, there were no balloons in sight – not even a flashy bit of bunting.
I was also dismayed by the rather long ballot paper, somewhat akin to a toilet roll, and the open booths. How private is my vote if I can simply watch which end of a sheet a person marks and guess that they must be voting Labor or Liberal? I miss India’s screened off booths and electronic machines. Someone ticks my name off a list, but no one sits ready to dot my thumbnail with indelible ink.
Choices, choices. Few parties to choose from, but many candidates. It is very hard to decide when one has little sense of the history of Australian politics and I find little from either major party on childcare, the one issue I really care about. A quiz on Vote Compass tells me that my sympathies lie 51/49 per cent for the major parties. It appears I am a walking Brexit decision. “The ultimate swing voter,” says one Australian friend who kindly gives me tips on how to vote. I opt to number the Senate candidates below the line, one to twelve, despite recognising few names.
Despite my misgivings and disappointments, I hope my vote does count for something. As another Indian-turned-Australian friend pointed out, they do make you register as a voter before swearing you in as a citizen. I fold up my ballot papers and drop them in the box. Then, with Master M waving madly to the ever-growing queue, we head off in search of sunshine and balloons.
As for the votes? As the ABC puts it, “Nothing is resolved.” They’re still counting.