Sunday, September 07, 2008


Yesterday, because we’d all been especially good, we Western Australians were treated to a state election. As usual I had my extremely casual job working for the Western Australian Electoral Commission as a polling place attendant, helping the voters to cast their votes for the future governance of this state, no matter how senile, bong-addled or downright dim those voters happened to be.

The polling place I worked at last year for the federal election wasn’t available this year, so I was assigned to a new site. I had no idea what to expect, and to be honest I wasn’t looking forward to it. The extra money is very welcome, but somehow the prospect of working from 7am to 10pm virtually without a break didn’t exactly fill me with glee.

However the experience turned out to be entirely painless. This was largely due to the considerable differences between our polling place and a normal polling place, in terms of venue, amenities and workload. Helpful fellow that I am, I have summarized these in handy point form below.


Normal polling place: a worn, ramshackle school hall with dodgy airconditioning and an occasional glimpse out a dusty window of a car park.

Our polling place: a cleared out restaurant in an upmarket retirement village, with efficient climate control, elegant furniture and one huge wall of glass looking out over a manicured park.


Normal polling place: working without a break to assist the tired, irritable voters who’ve been standing in line for half an hour.

Our polling place: helping the few hundred voters who showed up over the ten hours of polling, and spending the rest of the time playing patience on my iPod and chatting to the bubbly Italian-Australian housewife at the next desk.


Normal polling place: whatever one brings from home.

Our polling place: fish and chips with a nice salad, made for us by the cheerful Vietnamese ladies from the nearby kitchen.


Normal polling place: wretched International Roast instant coffee, possibly left over from Satan’s last dinner party.

Our polling place: the restaurant's state of the art, $3000 espresso machine that produced cappuccinos with the press of a button. Plus a big bag of choc-orange muffins I brought in.


Normal polling place: listening to ABC FM on a hissing portable radio belonging to the Polling Place Manager.

Our polling place: watching ABC TV on a vast wall-mounted plasma screen.


Normal polling place: standing around like unmotivated zombies while the Polling Place Manager dithers over the final few tonnes of paperwork.

Our polling place: being sent home an hour earlier than normal because our Polling Place Manager was a terrifyingly well-organised Napoleon of Bureaucracy.

We still don’t know who won the election – we’re facing a hung parliament, as the voters apparently voted at random, having sensibly concluded that all politicians are as dumb and self-serving as a particularly venal troop of gibbons. But as far as I’m concerned, I was the winner.


Anonymous Emma said...

Wow, what nice luck for you, sounds like a quite luxurious day, brilliant. I just remembered having an evening job once years ago to sort votes out into groups ready for counting, and it was in the Docker's gym next to the Freo footy oval. I had forgotten about that 'til I just read your blog!

9:52 PM  

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