Wednesday, August 6, 2003

birds of a feather flock together

I got to the poll station around 7:30 yesterday. It was grey out, the air was humid. The forecast called for rain. The other 8 people and I set up the folding tables, folded ballot boxes, opened the sleeves up that people vote behind, taped them to tables. The big urn that is found in every community hall in Nova Scotia had hot water in it and was whistling away. I taped the big yellow plastic sign that said "Voting Place" to the wall outside.

There were two polls at the hall that day. 50009 was the north side of the bridge to Tarbot, 50010 was the other side as far as "Alex Mac's mill". At each poll were: a DRO (District Returning Officer), a Poll Clerk, two agents from political parties who oversaw things, a ballot box, 200 ballots, and lots of other kinds of documents. I was in charge of most of them, as Poll Clerk. I was also in charge of a ruler, which I used to cross names off a list. I drew all over this ruler, but that comes later.

The polls opened at 8 am. There was a rush of maybe 10 people before nine, before they went to work. Then people trickled in and out all day, voting, talking, asking about friends and neighbours. Most of the people there manning the polls were above 30, but there were Geordie and Malcolm and I representing the 'young people'. We all got along great, 'like a house on fire', regardless.

At one point I went to get a cup of tea and found a big honking mug with "Birds of a Feather Flock Together" printed on the front and two arrows down to the bottom, and when you flipped it over it said on the bottom "Wanna flock?" I proceeded to drink countless cups of tea out of this mug all day. (No really, I lost count. It could be around ten.)

We talked all day. We talked about the weather, about the needed rain, about our relatives, about our friends, about our neighbours. We talked about the coming winter, about the tourists, about how the hall was humid so we should shut the fans off and shut the doors. We talked across the hall, table to table, we talked in hushed voices about how some of the voters couldn't read or write. We talked about how the rain was starting, and that was good, and some of us would check our wells and some of us wouldn't.

We closed the poll at 7. We dumped the ballots onto the table and counted them. Ink got all over Donnie's fingers, he was the DRO. Donnie Morrison runs a B and B down the road, he used to be the tax collector, people consider him a fine and upstanding citizen, and he is one.

We put Envelope B and C and all the D's into Envelope J, and sealed it all up, and then realized that we'd left out the stubs of used ballots. We tried to pry open a plastic envelope (J) made not to be pried open, then cut open a slit in it and shoved the stubs in. Then we wrapped masking tape around the whole top and signed some seals and stuck them on and stuck the whole thing in the ballot box. Donnie hurredly gave it to the other DRO and said he'd be going home to phone in the results. I couldn't stop giggling, so I had to go into the kitchen to put the scissors away.

After everyone had left, I walked the bike home. It had rained all day and now it had stopped, and the air was purple and wet. I sang jazz classics all the way. I was wired til 2 am from all the tea. And I didn't find out who won the election til this morning.

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