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politics

Election Day 2015

Today is Election Day in Anguilla. Wooo Hooo.

In the past 15 years I’ve only voted in three U.S. Presidential elections and in those by absentee ballot from a land far away. In fact, it’s hard to remember, but I think California encouraged mail-in voting even before I left the state. That means that it has possibly been decades since I had the very personal, tactile experience of walking into a physical polling place and placing my mark on an actual ballot.

Thanks to my recently conferred citizenship status, I can now vote here in Anguilla. Elections here only happen every 5 years so it was just luck that I would get the opportunity so soon. These are exciting times, indeed.

Unfortunately, I made my first mistake at 5A this morning. I was awake. I could have gotten up and been at the polling place when it opened at 6A. But I fell prey to my small island mentality. I thought to myself, how long of a line could there ever be? There aren’t that many people here, and there’s only one office to fill. Only one box to check. No complicated referendums to ponder. So I had my coffee and answered some emails and drove over at 7:45A. Wow. Cars and people everywhere. Given the number of people standing in the street talking, I thought “hmm, maybe it’s a social thing. Maybe all these people are done voting and just hanging out.” But as I drove slowly past the school and looked in to the buildings, I saw a long line of folks. So I just kept on driving and came back home while doing some math in my head.

OK, so my district is one of the larger ones with about 1700 voters. The polls are open for 13 hours. If spaced out evenly, that’s 130 voters per hour all day long. Huh. About two every minute. Huh. And then I remembered reading the ‘how to vote’ section of the elections.ai website. It refers repeatedly to The Presiding Officer. Not to ‘an official’ or ‘a polling agent’ or anything that implies that there may be more than one. Huh. Uh oh, Scooby Doo.

I made my second attempt at 10:15A. Turns out that they break up the alphabet into three different lines. Luckily I was aware that the powers that be INSISTED that my legal name in Anguilla be my maiden name followed by my married name, no hyphen. Otherwise I would have stood in the N-Z line. As it was, there were about 30 people ahead of me in my line. Unluckily, it turns out that one person enters the room at a time and completes the entire process (state name, mark roll, get instructions, walk behind booth, mark ballot, ink finger, drop ballot in box, exit). So about 65 minutes later I was done. Could have been worse, no doubt. Apparently people were camped out at 5A this morning waiting for the polls to open (dodged a bullet there).

In the States I would have a little sticker declaring “I Voted”. Here I have the time-honored inked finger to guarantee that I do not vote twice.

election

Time to celebrate both democracy in action and getting to be a part of it!

However, in Anguilla in accordance with section 69 (1) of the Elections Act, on Election Day no intoxicating liquor shall be sold, offered for sale, or given away at any time between the opening and closing of the polls (6am to 7pm) at an licenced premises in Anguilla….liable on summary conviction to a fine of $4,000 or to imprisonment for six (6) months.

That’s only at licenced premises, though, so I can still drink at home while I wait for the live election results to start showing up on line….inked fingers crossed for a positive outcome.