Monday, May 10, 2010

Making my vote count

Today is election day and it took me seven hours to cast my vote. In a sense the long wait wasn't really that bad. The weather cooperated. It was drizzling since morning so the cool breeze was a welcome relief from the El NiƱo heat. The voting process was a challenge but just the same, people opted to stay no matter how long the wait.

In retrospect, here are some of the random thoughts and observations I had while waiting for all of seven hours:

"Disorganized" happens
It's the first time that the country's using an automated voting system so certain problems are to be expected. But there are processes outside of the automation that could benefit from even a small semblance of order.

I was at the precinct around 7:30am. I was expecting a line but I was surprised by how disorganized the system was in the school where I voted. It was difficult to find the tables per cluster that serve designated precincts. The signs were posted in front of the tables, which were not visible especially with the crowd gathered around them. Simply making the signs visible would have made a difference.

Additionally, I had the misfortune of queuing at what seemed to be the most disorderly line. The volunteer in charge of the table was overwhelmed by the sheer number and demands of the people. I couldn't blame him though especially when he got all the blame even for some things beyond his control.

Accept the unexpected
The queue disappeared by 8:00am and it was practically free for all from then on. Everyone wanted to be first. I was supposed to be among those who lined up early for the priority number. I clearly saw when a volunteer wrote my name on a brown sheet of paper, which was purportedly "the list".

Two hours after, my name was still not called. After asking the volunteer, I learned that the list was missing and they couldn't do anything to produce it. So after two hours of waiting for nothing, I had to crawl through the mass of people who were not budging away from the table to have my name listed again. By this time I was feeling particularly frustrated and helpless.

From then on, it was mostly a matter of waiting. I spent the hours watching people and listening to their stories. I figured I can't complain especially after seeing the old and infirmed going through the same ordeal. It was actually one of my frustrations early on, how there seemed to be no system to assist them. It was good to see later on that they're prioritizing senior citizens and those with disabilities at the actual voting precincts. I only wish they did it earlier. Thank God the weather was fine otherwise it would really be harder for them.

Leave no trash behind
I think as mature voting adults everyone should be responsible enough not to leave trash behind. It's kind of sad to see so many garbage left for others to clean up. I just hope that cleaning those mess doesn't take up even a portion of students' class hours.

I'm curious as to who are the candidates who'll make an effort to help with clean-up even long after the spotlight dimmed. The amount of garbage that accumulated since campaign started is unbelievable. And the few hours of voting today produced a mountain of trash that nobody seemed to be making an effort to manage.

Today, many people exercised their right to vote regardless of the circumstances. There were moments earlier when a part of me just wanted to go home and be done with it. But I stayed. Like the many others I saw in that school. And I think I had it easy. Teachers and volunteers endured more than I did in that seven hours I waited.

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