democratic system

Respect for the Democratic System

I'm a little bit late on this post but feel it's still relevant regardless of the time frame. We had a provincial election here in Ontario just last week and this time around, I worked as a poll official. To be perfectly honest, I just really needed the extra cash the job offered. But let me tell you, the reward I got out of doing this was worth so much more than that. As cheesy as this may sound, my respect and appreciation for my country and the democratic system grew a hundred fold after doing this.

I had a training session a week before the election and for a good three hours or so, we were taught our roles and responsibilities, what to expect on election day, and the different scenarios we may encounter with electors. But a large portion of the session focused on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and our responsibility to treat electors with a disability with all the respect and dignity that they deserve. We were trained to ensure that their experience in voting was as easy, convenient, and comfortable as any other person. As I sat there in the elections office, I couldn't help but think, is this for real? How lucky am I (are we) to live in a country where the major concern is to make sure the electoral process is as accessible as possible to all people. For example, did you know that if you have a disability and cannot make it out to the polling station, you can request someone from Elections Ontario or Elections Canada (depending on what kind of election it is) to have the ballot box come to you in the comforts of your own home? Seriously. This is the kind of country we live in. It is actually amazing. Meanwhile, there are others around the world who are literally dying for their right to vote.

And on actual election day, it just felt good to experience first hand everything that happens behind the verify poll officials' empty ballot boxes both at the beginning of the day and at the end of the night, to properly process scrutineers to make sure they are representing who they say they're representing, to interact with electors, and of course, to actually be the one to count the ballots that represent the voice of the people (incredibly low voter turnout aside). In a year that's been rocked by protest movements in the Middle East and North Africa region, this whole experience just meant all the more...the whole day, all I could keep thinking was that while I carry out my seemingly small civic duty, there are millions of people out there on the streets, fighting and risking their lives to do what I'm doing today. And I felt grateful, and humbled, to have been sitting at my poll in a basement of that small church in a suburban city....