Election Day 2008

Originally posted from August 26, 2008


I’m just back from dropping Vivian off at pre-school and then heading over to cast my vote. I would have been here earlier, but there were line-ups, the first ones I’d encountered at an election, and I thought I’d picked a time when the morning rush would have abated.

And turning on CBC Newsworld, I hear that my polling station wasn’t alone. There are line-ups across the country, with some people having to wait an hour to vote. Hmm… I wonder if turnout is up. Mind you, after 2004’s devastating 58%, there was little it could do but go up, and the 2006 election did show an uptick in interest. It should be interesting seeing what the final number is at the end of the night.

The long lineups made me somewhat relieved and somewhat guilty that I’m not manning a polling station this time around. It’s clear that they could have used extra help, but then Elections Canada can’t predict turnout. More than likely, I’d be there fending off the crowds, and somebody else would have been bumped, losing a good day’s pay, but at least having the opportunity to relax at home. So, six of one and half-dozen of the other.

At least the crowds were orderly and patient as the Elections Canada officials checked their IDs and explained the ballot. The mood at my station was entirely positive, as one would hope to find among any large group of people out to do their civic duty.

And, a note to ChuckerCanuck, I did not vote Liberal. That would have broken an eleven year streak in federal politics. It was a hard choice, though. Harder still if I was still in Kitchener Centre, where I know Karen Redman and like her personally. I’m less enamoured by Andrew Telegdi, though I don’t have Warren Kinsella’s hate on for the guy. Actually, I must confess that I admired Telegdi’s stand that citizenship, once given, should not be taken away, and I admired the fact that he stood up to his own party for this principle. I felt, and I still feel, that if we believed Helmut Oberlander committed or contributed to war crimes, that it was our duty to bring him to trial as a Canadian citizen, rather than to foist that responsibility off on some European court.

Still, I find Telegdi to be a somewhat combative personality in a number of things, and as a politician, he didn’t excite me enough to break my not-voting-Liberal streak. The NDP almost never runs a credible candidate in this riding (unfortunately), and the Conservatives brought forward yet another business lawyer (Lord knows we have enough of those on Parliament Hill), so I voted for Pauline Richards, the Green Party candidate. She impressed me during her run for the riding in the 2003 provincial election, and though the Greens have little hope of taking this seat, I figure they could use my $1.75. And perhaps Pauline could get enough votes to win back her Elections Canada deposit. Even though I prefer David Chernushenko’s approach, I’ve still been impressed by the profile Elizabeth May has been able to give to the party, and I still have the sense that Blue Greens are welcome there.

So, after I bring Vivian home, there’s little left for me to do other than get dinner ready, and wait for the polls to close and the results come in. I admit it; I’m an election junkie. I love tuning in on election night and seeing the numbers climb up in their neat little displays. Actually, at eight o’clock, I think I’ll tune into the CBC’s Halifax feed on my cable. I’m interested to see if my cable provider will obey that stupid, antiquated rule about blacking out the results in the parts of the country where the polls haven’t closed yet. Like that policy makes sense now that American Internet sites are lining up to get the Atlantic results out to Ontarians an hour early.

A couple of years back, while I was on a Bloggers Hotstove (shame you haven’t brought that back, Greg), fellow guest Damian Penny noted that the compromise that allowed the “fairness” of not having early results known before the polls closed to coexist with an open broadcast system would be to hold back the announcement of the results throughout the country until the final polls closed in B.C. That makes a lot of sense to me, but I think it would still be a shame. I like watching the results roll across the country. Its good storytelling. You can see momentum build and fade. Ontario has broken this way, what will B.C. do? Tune in next hour for the exciting conclusion! Instead, all the results would come in one big BLAH! and be largely over with in an hour. No build-up, no momentum, no drama.

I’ll be posting my minute-to-minute thoughts on the election results tonight, at 8 p.m. if I can catch an Atlantic feed, or 9 p.m. otherwise. So, if you’re so inclined, stay tuned!

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