“This is the first time in my life to vote. I’m 41 years old and have never voted before.”
His eagerness to do so was obvious, so as we processed his voter’s card, we carried on this conversation. Having recently become a Canadian citizen, the opportunity to vote was one he could clearly not pass up.
With all the activity at the polling station, my attention to a conversation was sporadic, so I forgot which African country he said he was from, but whichever it was, voting was either a farce or very difficult and dangerous, so he never got the opportunity to do it. This was an event that was special.
Oct. 21, my wife and I had the privilege of working the federal election. For a people watcher, this was a great time for observation. We met a lot of interesting people.
Their reasons for voting were many. For some, it was an obligation, while others saw it as an opportunity to change things. Some were eager, some not so much, but they all came to exercise their right.
One question I was asked more than once was who they should vote for, or did we have any recommendations. Of course, we were not allowed to do that.
As a matter of fact, we were instructed to speak and dress in a neutral manner, and not to show any partisanship whatsoever.
The manner in which folks approached revealed a lot about their character, or at least their outlook on life. Some were serious, while others were two syllables away from outright laughter.
Some were inquisitive and hesitant, while others walked in like they owned the place. About 90 per cent were very pleasant, so it made our work easier, and even enjoyable.
One issue that created some emotions was proof of ID and address. Even though through advertising, and through the information on the voter’s card, the requirements were fully explained, tempers would periodically flare, as if somehow a belligerent attitude would overcome deficiencies in their understanding.
Some did their homework, others didn’t. Then there were others who were completely caught up in the exuberance of their own verbosity in trying to baffle, although at times, they added a bit of levity to the process.
The entire 12 hours of voting time went fast. We were never given time to be bored, so all in all, the day went well.
I know no one wants to be called common, but democracy is a platform of electing leaders the “common man” can and is expected to participate in.
I expressed that once and received a disgusting response. But what we don’t realize is rather than being a common man, we are considered participants, leading me to believe exercising this right makes us special, not common.
So often around the world, we see some voting processes where there is violence and intimidation. And not always is it a vote cast in privacy or even with a degree of security.
An election where there is only one name on a ballot is not an election, it is a dictatorship.
A lot of immigrants to Canada came from a country like that. Their vote resulted in nothing more than a blatant takeover of a country.
It’s a travesty when people don’t care enough to cast a ballot. The freedoms we take for granted in this country were hard fought for. People, who because they don’t have the required information to vote, who just say, “to heck with it,” and walk out, in my opinion, don’t have the right to complain.
That is why I began this column with the story of the immigrant who felt it was a privilege and a joy to vote.
Chris Salomons is a retired Red Deer resident with a concern for the downtrodden.