By J.W. Schnarr
In the midst of what could be one of the most titanic provincial elections I’ve ever had the pleasure of wading through – or not, depending on how things go – this election was a very special one for me, because it completes a circle that has taken a very long time to close.
Of course, I’m writing this column Tuesday morning after my daughter and I have already been to the polls. You, on the other hand, did that two days ago, and most likely already know the outcome of the election, which means I’m reaching you now from the dim and distant past.
If you do know the outcome already, please, keep it to yourself until I catch up in this timeline so you don’t spoil the surprise. As Dr. River Song would say, ‘Spoilers!’
I’m a big fan of taking the big picture and turning the lens so that it focuses on one little part of that picture, so I want to tell you how proud and excited I was at the prospect of today being what it is – two days ago, to you.
For me, this election was about more than whether the mighty rein of the PCs continued or fell, or which local hopeful I was going to be calling for the next four years every time the provincial government did something newsworthy.
For me, the lens turned even more, cranked right to its limit, all the way down to a single vote. My daughter’s.
Now, I’m going to wind the TARDIS into action, grab you all by the collar (believe me, there’s plenty of room), and head back to the 2000 Federal Election.
That day, I took my almost-four-year-old Monster to a polling station in Forest Lawn, Calgary, so that I could expose her to the cornerstone of western democracy – the ability for one person to do their part to change the world by marking an ‘X’ on a ballot.
Monster – she was always called Monster, out of love, even before she was addicted to those awful-tasting energy drinks – was intimidated by all the action going on, and the formality of the process, but we held hands and I explained to her what was happening as it happened.
We finally got to the part where the magic happens, and as I was about to step behind the booth, the old Skeksis hag watching over the procession noticed that I had a Podling with me and immediately put a halt to the process.
“She can’t go back there with you!” she declared, driving her point home with the thrust of a gnarled, skeletal finger.
At least, that’s how I remember it. But then again, I watch too many movies.
I do remember thinking yes, technically I have to go behind the booth on my own, without anyone else around. But Monster was just a baby, and there is absolutely no way she was going to influence my vote. Not on that day, at any rate. The prevailing government of the day had already influenced it plenty for me.
So instead of coming behind the booth with me, so she could watch the process from beginning to end, Monster was robbed of the climax of our adventure that day. She sat on a plastic chair, alone, surrounded by strangers, while I disappeared behind a cardboard stand for 30 seconds and came out the other side, still annoyed. To exact my vengeance upon the cruel overlords of the polling station, I stole the pencil I voted with and later tossed it into my jar of Dungeons and Dragons dice. Take that, establishment!
If we can step back into the TARDIS for a second, to voting day, 2015, there is Monster and I once more standing in line waiting to vote. Only this time, she stands in front of me, so that
I won’t be stuck behind that cardboard shield if she has any questions. That old Skeksis is long gone, and here in Taber we’re served by the nicest people running the tables. Very helpful and very friendly.
As a newly minted 18-year-old, this is the first time Monster has gone through the process herself. I’ve been excited for weeks to see this day, and not because of the big picture.
It’s because of this little one, where I see a young person eager and excited to vote. She’s a little nervous about being late for school, and I tell her she can’t get in trouble for being late today because she is voting, and it’s voting day, and that’s what you do on this day. And it may have taken a long time, but it is here at last.