osmie: (Default)
With one foot in front of the other until you get to the polling place.
With confidence that you have the right to be there,
that the most officious officer can make it hard for you but no one can turn you away.
With admiration at the people around you,
for they've accepted that citizenship is a privilege,
and take enough pride in that privilege to be here, now, voting, with you.
With amazement at their diversity,
here in the one place and time when you cannot hide from that diversity,
where everybody is as Canadian as you are.
With your kids beside you.
With your parents or your parole officer in tow.
With your guests from out of town.
With pride in your privilege, and sympathy for the most officious officer,
who probably didn't get enough training,
and maybe there's something you and the proud Canadians around you can do to help calm them down.

Travel to the first advance poll if you can. The second if you can't.
Pretend the third advance poll is election day itself.
Tell all your friends you voted in advance. Applaud as they tell their friends. Rave.
Turn voting into a trend.

Give your name. Give your address. Show your photo ID.
If you don't have any photo ID, show a piece of mail.
If you don't have a piece of mail, go visit the public library
and ask them to mail you something before election day.
If you can't receive mail before election day, because it is election day,
or because you have no home with a mailing address,
or because you live in a town without a public library,
bring a friend and sign an affidavit.

Say hello to the poll clerk and deputy returning officer, sitting all day behind a ballot box.
State your name for the poll clerk.
Take your ballot from the DRO.
Scoot, walk, shuffle to the voting screen. Pick up the pen.
Unroll your ballot like a Tim Horton's cup,
admiring the crown printer's even black ink across its face,
admiring how clearly each box matches one candidate,
so that you can never make a mistake without catching it a moment later.

Read every name. Notice if two names sound similar.
If you can't read, ask the poll clerk for someone to read the names to you.
Draw one large X in the empty white box next to the name of one candidate.
If you can't draw an X, ask the poll clerk for someone to draw an X for you.

Turn your ballot over. Breathe once with your eyes closed.
Turn your ballot over again and read it as though you've never seen it before.
If you made a mistake, ask the DRO for a second chance,
and they will seal your first ballot in an envelope to be destroyed.

Roll up your ballot and hand it back to the DRO.
Together you'll place it in the ballot box.

Go home and tell all your friends. Applaud as they tell their friends.
Let there be lineups at the polls.

You might not know who to vote for,
but maybe you can figure out a couple of people to vote against.
If you can't decide among two candidates, pick the one whose name you like best
as you roll it around your mouth.
If you can't decide among three candidates, play one-potato-two-potato
as you count the letters of their names.
If you can't decide among four candidates, close your eyes and shuffle the paper back and forth
as you point with the stub end of your pen.

If you can't decide among any of the candidates,
maybe you're the sort of person who likes math
and who hates getting the wrong answer.
There's an equation if you want it.
List all the decisions you can make. List all the possible election outcomes.
Guess a probability for each decision-outcome,
and make sure the numbers in each decision-row add up to 1.
Then multiply each probability by how much regret you'll feel if it happens,
and vote for the candidate with the lowest total.

Or maybe you're the sort of person who likes policy.
Visit their party websites and read their policy handbooks.
Phone your candidates and ask what they'll do, how they'll do it,
what specific actions they plan to take in the world.
Everyone can talk about vague intentions.
Learn from them, if you haven't already learned all you'll ever learn,
if they have anything at all to teach you.
Ask honest questions, and learn which candidates are honest enough to say I don't know.

Or maybe you're the sort of person who likes to watch people's faces.
Your candidates all had a debate on YouTube last week: go find it.
So did their party leaders. Go find that debate too.
Visit your candidates at their riding offices.
Watch the debates at your public library,
and tell all the other library patrons you're getting ready to vote.
Turn voting into a trend.

This isn't a standardized test, a Foundation Skills Assessment of citizenship.
The right answer is whatever name you choose,
and you make it right the moment you choose it.

If you don't like any of the candidates in your riding,
if you really don't like them, and you don't just hate the party leaders or the institution of voting,
then vote anyway,
and next election, make sure one of those candidates is you.

The only Canadians without a vote are children and the Chief Electoral Officer,
but minor election officials can only vote at the advance poll;
on election day, poll clerks and DROs lose their franchise too.
Maybe one officer forgot to vote. Maybe that's why they're being so officious today.

If you're at the wrong polling place, they can still direct you to the right one,
so ask a party scrutineer to arrange you a ride.
Tell them you think you might vote for their side,
even if you'd rather vote Natural Law or Rhino,
even if you might play one-potato-two-potato with the names on the ballot,
even if you can't read with your own eyes, draw with your own hand, walk on your own feet.

Roll up your ballot.
No one can turn you away.

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Osmium Penguin

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