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8:48am on Thursday, 6th May, 2021:



It's local elections day in the UK today, in which I get to decide which parties to help save their deposits in the face of the Conservative steamroller. As usual, I voted early because that way I don't have to queue.

This time, there were three elections at once, each with a different voting system. On the first, I got to vote for just one candidate. On the second, I got to vote for two candidates. On the third, I got to vote for two candidates but had to rank them as first or second. I invested them in attempts to get the Liberal Democrats and the Greens over the line, except for one of them that didn't have a Green candidate so I had to choose the least-patronising Labour candidate instead.

The sheets were helpfully colour-coded so I knew which ballot box to use. The salmon paper went in the pink box; the pale yellow paper went in the buff box; the white paper went in the white box. The ones intended for the pink box looked more of a buff colour than the ones intended for the buff box, but there was a man in position to ensure people put their papers in the right boxes so the people counting them didn't have too much sorting-out to do. Sorting out by colour is something I would actually trust a machine to do, so long as people still did the counting; that way, they could spot any errors. I wouldn't trust machines (or rather their operators) to do the actual counting, though.

We had some fancy new voting booths this time round, too, made of metal and (I think) fibreglass. Each booth had four tables at different heights so excceptionally tall people and people in wheelchairs could use the one that worked for them. The old ones were made of wood and had probably been seeing service since the 1920s.

We had to bring our own pencils, a point which so distracted my wife that she forgot to take a face mask and had to borrow mine.

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Copyright © 2021 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).