Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Polling Day

For audio click here 
I’d only gone in to town in the hope that Kay Burley or Jon Snow would stick a microphone under my nose and ask me how I was going to vote in the most marginal seat in the country. But there were no ITV news crews on the main square, no BBC interviewers outside the leisure centre, the media had packed up and gone home on today of all days. So, with no minor celebrities about, I decided to go home, get my voting card and cast my vote. Then, I’d cross my fingers and hope that enough other like-minded people would be doing the same. They said that whoever won this seat, could expect to win overall and I had a good feeling. 
That good feeling evaporated as soon as I approached the polling station.  One thing you don’t expect to see outside a polling station in the UK are men dressed in black with automatic rifles across their chests, but there were three of them standing there waving an elderly woman through. 
“Excuse me, sir, can we see your voting card?”
I looked at the man who had spoken to me. He looked like army, but his uniform had no insignia.
“No,” I said. “I’ll show it to the people inside.”
The man put a hand on my chest while another raised his rifle.
“Your card sir,” he snatched it out of my hand. 
“Who the fuck are you?” I asked.
“Election commission,” he answered. “We’ve had a credible threat of violence.”
“Bullshit, now let me through.” The man stood his ground.
“And who are you voting for today, sir?”
“None of your business,” I said. 
“Well, let me remind you of your duty to the country, sir.” 
“I know my duty.” I went to step around him.  He stood aside to let me pass but I felt the weight of his shadow as I entered the building and handed the volunteers my card. 
I entered the booth with my voting slip and the soldier came in with me. 
“Fuck off,” I said, “this is a secret ballot.”
“Just need to see you’re doing it right, sir. That one will do.” He put his finger next to a candidate I wouldn’t have voted for in a million years. 
“Are you allowing this?” I said to the man and woman behind the desk. They both shrugged. 
I picked up the pencil and started to make an X next to my preferred candidate’s name.
“Let me,” he said, taking the pencil off me and putting an X next to his recommendation. 
“Now be a good boy and make sure you put it in the box.” 
I looked at him and then tore the ballot paper into strips and dropped it on the floor. 
I don’t remember what happened next. I woke up on my own bed, in my own flat, my head throbbing and my neck tender. I didn’t need to turn on the news. I knew the result of the election.  

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