May 6th, 2006

krazy koati

We're ready for Teddy again, boys

Election Day! At least in the morning. I'd have liked to get pictures of campaigning, but I'm in a district which isn't being challenged. Plus I live in faculty housing for foreign talent, is not usually a major campaign battleground. I did get into Chinatown, where you can see the People's Action Party has gone wild postering. Where there's more pedestrian, or slower vehicle, traffic the sign pattern gets more obvious. And if a picture of some cartoon birds doesn't make sense, let me explain: it's a bus.

Public service announcements are explaining How To Vote, to tuneless but faintly pleasant music. It starts with the reminder to vote between 8 am and 8 pm. All eligible voters should have their poll card, shown by having an attractive young woman look at hers and walk into a library. Don't bring a camera, hand phone, or PDA into the polling place, and they show that by a different woman's bag being searched, and checking it with the officer. The first woman shows her identity card and poll card to a voting official, and the other official prepares her voting paper. It's a paper ballot ripped out of a booklet like raffle tickets.

In the example ballot, they use filler party symbols and candidate names. The symbols here are a cheery flower, and a yacht with a flag at half-mast. In a Single Member Constituency -- one member of parliament for the district, in this example Bukit Panjang -- the Flower candidate is ABC DEF GHI and the Mourning Yacht candidate is JKL MNOP QRS. For a Group Representation Constituency -- a whole slate voted on together, in this example Holland-Bukit Timah -- the Flowers put up Chan Kok Wai, Mohd Harrisman B Ismail, Willie Ong, Tan Kay Meng, and Chan Kok Wai, who apparently feels he's underachieving if he only gives 110 percent. For the Mourning Yachts are Hong Ghim Guat, Willie Ong, Tan Kay Meng, Chong Ah Moy, and Hong Ghim Guan. Mr Hong is easily a match for Mr Chan. But I expect Willie Ong and Tan Kay Meng will get angry calls from their imaginary party whips.

In the announcement the woman who hasn't noticed this disembodied voice predicting her every action, takes her voting paper to a four-cornered cross stand, like you might use for privacy at a bank, which hasn't got a curtain but has rough yet reflective walls. She makes her cross next to the party symbol, despite the large 'SPECIMEN' running across the sample ballot, needed so her vote for the Flowers doesn't mess up the actual Mourning Yacht party's chances. Then she folds it, takes it to the ballot box, a certifiable cardboard box with ``Ballot Box'' labels, and drops it in. The announcer asks those who haven't got their poll card by 2 May to call the Enquiry Centre Hotline, 1800 333 1111, which I mention because I like that flow of words. And, finally, remember, voting is compulsory. And your vote is secret, unless you're in a How To Vote video.

Trivia: In the United States's 1824 Presidential Election, only 356,000 people voted. Source: A New History of the United States, William Miller.

Currently Reading: The Birth of Neurosis: Myth, Malady, and the Victorians, George Frederick Drinka.