Voting in GE14 2018 – Part 1

(The queue to each voting stations – this particular queue where I was standing started from the staircase, all the way to the end, turns right forming another line, makes a U-Turn at the end and heads back to the left. At the end of this left is the classroom where the voting station is located. Look at the queues at the each of the floor – the line was long and it moved so slow)

Weeks before the actual elections day came (the time Najib was still undecided on when to call for the General Elections), I was worried – will we see another 5 years of nonsense and things to be continued to be swept under the carpet?

Personally, I didn’t think Pakatan will ever win the simple majority over the Federal seats but I knew that we had to at least defend Penang & Selangor from falling back to BN. BN had been trying all sorts of tricks in the book to wrestle back the voters support in these crucial states but failed todate. I also made sure to share any positive news on Pakatan with family and friends – the awareness is the key for fence voters to decide when the time comes. And as the days went by, I started to realise that the support for Pakatan was overwhelming compared to support I noticed back in GE13. Tun Dr M being the chairman and designated Prime Minister for Pakatan was a big factor for the support (of course, there was others like high cost of living, selective prosecution, mismanagement of taxpayers’ money, etc). Thousands attended Pakatan public rallies and it was more evident on the social media. Even my 90++ years old grandmother was restless and kept asking when is the elections as she wanted to vote for Tun M.

GE14 would be my 4th time I will be voting on who will be running the nation – so it was not a first time for me but I was still anxious.

Days before 9th May 2018, I double checked, no no, I tripled checked the EC website on my voter’s details and also my siblings and parents. All checked well although it presented a logistic issue. Me and my wife was voting in one place, my sister in another, my Dad in another and my Mom in another and all of us wanted to settle voting as early as possible in the morning before it gets too hot. Considering how some of the candidates were disqualified because they were found bankrupted on the day of nomination but was not the day before, I had nightmares of us going to our polling stations and find our names missing. In fact, on the social media, this worst case scenario was even considered as very real and voters were advised to keep a hardcopy of the voters search just in case it happens. And we did the same; both me and my sister downloaded the details on our phones and shared with all.

And we quickly worked the logistics – I will pick up my Mom first thing in the morning for her voting station because she is the furthest away compared to others. Once finished (which I expected to be done by lunch time), I will come back and pick up my wife in the afternoon as our polling place is the same. In the meantime, she will take care of the kids at home whilst I was out sending my Mom and once back, my Mom will keep an eye on the kids so that we can go and vote. At the same time, my sister will pick up my Dad as it is nearer to home – we want my Dad to go early and finish early as he can’t stand long in the queue due to his medical condition. And somewhere in between we had to arrange for breakfast and lunch for us and the kids. Phew!!!

The polling station opens at 8 am so we planned to ensure our parents at the respective schools by 7.30 am (minimum). And a funny thing happened as I drove out – the roads were clear and despite some morons changing lanes without any indicators, I did not curse them as usual. Somehow I considered them as “Pakatan” supporters on the way to vote and as such I want them to reach their polling stations safely and cast their votes in time. In fact, I was doing a silent prayer so that all voters – irrespective of which party they are supporting – will be able to reach their polling station safely and cast their votes in time. Crazy of me!

By the time, I dropped my Mom at the school at our old neighborhood, a long queue already formed – I guessed they must have lined up before 7 am. Looking at the long line and considering that there is no place to park my car to wait for her to finish voting, I told my Mom to queue up first and once finished, stand in front of the main gate of the school and call me. Gathering that I still had about 1 – 1.5 hours before I get the call, I drove around the old neighborhood (where we use to walk for miles to buy our sundry items) before deciding to stop at the food court for breakfast. The place was full packed – it seemed like most of elderly voters had decided to take their breakfast before going to their voting stations.

When the old lady at the food court served my hot delicious Char Keow Teow, she asked me if I had voted (she must have noticed the missing ink on my fingers), I smiled at her and said I am going in the afternoon. She smiled back and said that no matter what, everyone must vote – vote for change – vote for the opposition. I noticed she repeat this mantra on the next customer who had ordered Char Keow Teow. Just as I was finishing the delicious breakfast, my Mom called and said she had finished voting – the time was 8.30 am. I was impressed – despite the long queue, it moved fast and was done fast. My sister called almost the same time and said that Dad also had completed his voting and they are already back and waiting at my house.

Since my parents finished early, instead of waiting for afternoon, we decided to leave immediately to our polling station – 1. To take advantage of the good weather in the morning (it usually rained in the evening) and 2. To ensure we have more than enough time to cast our votes. Parking was not easy near the polling stations despite the present of traffic policemen. There even people triple parked and waiting in the car. We had to park far so as not to block the road – it was a good exercise walking towards the polling station and there were many other excited voters walking with us. Since we had pre-printed our voter’s details and know which station to go, there was no need to queue again and check at the front counters – we were directed by the kind lady at the ground floor on where to go next.

The time at my watch showed 9.30 am.

My wife’s polling station was at the 2nd floor whilst mine was at the 3rd floor but as we reached the staircase, we noticed queue already formed along the staircase. I think there were at least 100 people in front of me as I reached the 3rd floor and the line was moving very slowly. But considering that we had at least 7 hours before the polling stations would be closed at 5pm, we know we had plenty of time and we will be able to cast our votes. But as time went by and it was getting hotter and hotter and the line started to move slower and slower, I realised that we made a mistake of not bring a bottle of water. Smart ones had a fully charged phone to kill time. Smarter ones had a big bag and 2 bottles of water in it. One old lady at the polling station at the ground floor fainted and the EC staff & her relatives were quick to come to her aid and get her to rest. Others like the very elderly and pregnant ladies was given the chance to cut queue and go straight to vote – other voters did not mind and understood of the situation.

Thirsty and tired of standing in the queue, I finally reached at the front door of the polling station. The time was 11.45 am – I have been at the queue for almost 2 hours. The officer at front motioned me to come and pass him my identification card. Since I knew my serial number, I told him and that made it easier to check the list and confirmed my name. Next was the ink – I noticed it did not dry fast and I was extra careful when I got the ballot papers – I did not want any stains on it and cause it to be an invalid vote. I had a small tissue paper so I managed to wrap my finger on it and very carefully I cast my vote clearly. My wife managed to cast her votes 30 minutes earlier and was waiting for me at the main entrance (I did not realise it as I had put my phone on silent mode).

Voting done and we were parched – it was time to have our drinks before doing anything else. We rushed back and had at least 2 large glasses of fruit juice at a nearby food court and yet we were still thirsty. Lesson learned – next GE – we are bringing our bottles of water.

Part 1 of the tasks for the day was done – organising and casting our votes. Next was Part 2 which was following up on the election results and I know it is going to be one long day (or night) before we got the results up.

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