On May 9, we had one of the most interesting elections in a long time in B.C. As I mentioned last time, I worked for Elections BC as a supervisory voting officer at Beach Grove Elementary.
First off, for those who closely follow my columns (other than my mother), I have to apologize. I said the database of voters was now on laptops. I found out later that was only for absentee ballots, not general voting. We're still working old school, with your name printed on a paper voters list. Unalterable. Secure. In no way can be hacked by Russian operatives. Who says technology makes everything better? I'm sure some, after reading my column, were looking forward to a new experience and didn't get it. Oops, sorry about that. More likely, people didn't really notice. I am under no illusion that my columns provide little more than mild entertainment and more likely something quickly recycled. Well, thanks for recycling.
The day started early, just before 7 a.m., as the team of people assigned to my polling station arrived and started setting up. The doors opened at 8 a.m. with about 20 people in line. By 10 a.m., things had slowed down, but that was good, it gave us a chance to make sure we were doing things right and solve any problems before it got busier.
It's interesting how you can define an area based on when people vote. Some will wait for the doors to open, lots showed up around the time to drop off their kids at school. Retirees like to vote mid-morning. Each voting station had a different pattern. The one I always feel sorry for is where most people go into town to work.
Around 5 p.m., I checked in with that station. They had a voters list of 500 on it and so far, including the early voting, they had about 50 per cent turnout. We made bets on how many more would be showing up - I figured they'd have about 70 per cent turnout, around 350 voters total. Not long after, they got slammed.
The line-up was about 50 deep for the next two hours. The other stations were quiet, almost bored. Not these guys. At the end of the night, they had over 400 voters, better than an 80 per cent turnout. The stats haven't been released yet, but I'm sure that is one of, if not the best, turnouts in the province.
The best part of the day for me was seeing the students visit the polling place. I lost count how many classes came in, from Grade 2 to Grade 7. They had done a mock election, older kids voting for the candidates, younger voted for flavours of ice cream (vanilla won). But they had great questions, and learned about how our democracy works. Future voters, all.
We also spoke about why we have the right to vote, how so many fought and died for us to have this right. I get upset when people say their vote doesn't count. Tell that to a family member of a fallen soldier who died so you could mark a ballot. They all count, regardless of who gets elected.
Seems odd to say, I wonder what the final result will be.
Brad Sherwin, MBA has over 25 years' experience in marketing, public relations and business strategy. He is currently the director of marketing for a national non-profit organization.