How to vote

I pre-polled at the last federal election, as I worked on election day for the Australian Electoral Commission. It was an enjoyable and fascinating “behind the scenes” experience at Sydney’s Town Hall. https://jamesobrien.id.au/2019/05/vote-one-eurovision/

Working on polling day in 2019

I have a vague idea I might have pre-polled at the previous election too.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve voted at the Bourke Street Public School. Voting at the historic building, only a short walk from home has changed.

The biggest “shift” occurred when the polling centre went from being one with a lot of absentee voters (tourists/renters/backpackers etc) to one dominated by “locals”. It was always a great place in previous times, as the queue for “locals” was always much shorter.

Election Day at Bourke Street Public School

Yesterday’s queue to vote was the longest I’ve ever seen at Bourke Street Public School.  By the time I joined the queue at about 8.15 am and emerged, it was roughly 45 minutes in total. Luckily, I managed to grab a sausage sandwich, as the bloke in front and I held our queue places for each other. The smell of onions cooking was too much!

The sausage sizzle at Bourke Street Public School. Though prepared with coins, they’ve joined the modern world with tap-and-go. They also had cupcakes and were selling copies of the school cookbook.

Voting itself took about 5 minutes. Though the size of the senate paper is often joked about, due to a large number of “unknown” and “fringe” candidates, I also struggled a little with the lower house vote. Aside from our local member, Tanya Plibersek, who holds a very safe seat, I had never heard of any of the other candidates. I knew the parties, of course, and was able to do a valid vote. Often it’s a case of putting the “worst” candidate the last, but this time around there were so many possible options for voting last.

Surprisingly, there were NO posters or people handing out “how to vote cards” for the LNP. Not one. Yes, it’s a safe seat, but there would normally be equal numbers of LNP volunteers, in support of the Senate vote. But this time around, there wasn’t a single poster or volunteer. In fact, over the last few weeks, posters for Tanya have been the only street posters I’ve seen locally.

Since the last time I voted at Bourke Street Public School, they appear to have built a new large building at the back of the historic school frontage. A sign of how much the school appears to have grown in the last few years. Sure, there are still lots of young people living in share accommodation etc, but it’s also a sign the area is now also made up of lots of families with school-aged children. 

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  1. Andrew

    I think the Electoral Commission did a pretty good job with staffing, given the difficulty of getting staff for any business. It’s an interesting observation about the non participation at a major voting booth by the Liberal Party.

    1. James O'Brien

      They were both friendly and good at their jobs. Last election, it was a fourteen hour day that was born physically and mentally exhausting.

  2. Rod McAdam

    It was a little strange yesterday being election day and I wasn’t up early and off to work for the AEC at a polling booth, which I have done for a number of previous elections. This time I gave it a miss because of COVID and also I’ve done it for long enough. I sent my postal vote in a couple of weeks ago. This time I was able to enjoy a movie and dinner with friends and then watch some of the coverage when I got home. I was surprised by the early and clear result.

    1. James O'Brien

      A movie and a dinner? Cool. What did you see? A recommendaiton?

      1. Rod McAdam

        We saw ‘Petite Maman’ (Little Mother). It’s a very gentle film. Some might say it’s rather slow. Not a lot happens but it’s quite atmospheric. Very hard to describe the film. I guess I would say it’s a fantasy about a young girl and her mother dealing with the death of the grandmother. There was a good deal of discussion about it at dinner afterwards. An unusual film. If you go, I hope you enjoy it.

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