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Reflections the Day After

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

I am, if nothing else, a creature of habit. So the day following an election, I take my sample ballot in hand, and mark the official winners in each race. I can’t remember when I started doing this or what even possessed me to do it in the first place. I have found, over the years, that setting aside some time for post-election reflection allows me to internalize the results and move forward.

Over the course of my voting life, the sad truth is that my candidates lose far more than they win. In fact, I often wonder if I should warn candidates that I am not someone they want to have on their side. Much in the way the ancient tiki in the first three episodes of Season 4 of The Brady Bunch brought bad luck to the Brady kids. From mild annoyance to raging disappointment, taking some moments to work through the emotions is like a hard reset, allowing me to keep faith in the process.

Yesterday’s post elicited a number of comments that described the variety of ways people can vote in this country and abroad. I do agree that making the process easier might allow for more people to participate in the democratic process. But I am not sure that it is just about making it easier.

JockBro cited a study that reinforces the idea that people tend to show up to be seen. Though not familiar with that particular study, a similar idea is explored in this 2006 study . When I was young, our designated polling place was in the garage of a house that was around the corner from our home. Year after year, my parents, with us in tow, chitchatted with neighbours while waiting in line for our turn to vote. With baked goods on the table, folks would linger for just a moment and catch up on family news. Such interactions made an anonymous process into something so much more.

While absentee ballots, voting by screen, or dropping of ballots in designated locations make the process easier, it certainly doesn’t make it any friendlier. And while community building is not the primary goal of a primary (or general election), it certainly couldn’t hurt.

As a somewhat related aside, if we all voted by mail or drop-in ballot, the following incident could not have happened:

At 1:30pm yesterday, my friend went into labour. Having not yet voted, they made a quick detour to the polls. Where folks let her go straight to the front of the line and then wished her well on the impending delivery.

If this kid doesn’t end up being a politician….

Mazal tov to S and C on the safe delivery of their son!

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