I voted

Ink-stained finger

by Suelin Low Chew Tung

Today I exercised my right of freedom of expression. I voted. I left home just after 5 this morning and walked to my polling station on Church Street. Voters’ ID – check. Back-up ID – check. Bottle of water, and a bar of chocolate, vital supplies – check.

I was fourth on arrival, but because I was chatting with persons I had not seen in ages, I ended up 10th in line. While I waited, I saw 2 police officers arrive to secure the premises and I watched (from the outside) as the election staff organised themselves and prepared the hall for the voting process. The agents were called in, and shortly afterwards, I volunteered to be one of 4 persons to inspect the ballot boxes before they were secured. At 6 am, a police officer announced that the polls were open, and we formed two lines by surname – one for A to J, and the other from K to Z. I was in the latter.

A handful of people asked if they needed to have their voters’ id with then and were told once their names were on the ballot sheet, they could vote.

The rest of the process went relatively quickly; each part noted and supported by humour from the queue.

  1. Announce my name and address so that everyone in the room and within earshot could hear.
  2. Wait for my name to be found on 3
  3. Proceed to the main table, present voter’s id.
  4. Wait for my name to be found on another list.
  5. Receive ballot with instructions
    1. to leave cell phone at the table while I go to the booth
    2. to place my mark using only the pencil provided
    3. to fold ballot to line indicated and return to table
  6. Return ballot to staff at table; ballot torn off at line. Top part collected.
  7. Ink bottle presented with instructions to dip right index finger.
  8. Finger dipped.
  9. Bottom part of ballot returned to me.
  10. Instructed to use other hand (so not to spoil ballot) to drop ballot into ballot box
  11. Done.

Am home for the rest of the day, watching updates from the various polling stations unfold on social media, and trying to find a non-caustic way to remove the ink from my finger.

The good weather should hold until 5 pm. Plenty time for the rest of the nation to go vote.

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