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Friday, June 11, 2004

Euro Elections

Well, I voted at 7.25am. I just thought I'd explain how it works here, since I'm aware that the traditional voting system over here in the UK is hopelessly primitive compared to in the US (tongue very firmly in cheek). Thankfully I am not in one of the regions where they've been experimenting with all postal voting. Also in my local town there are no other elections (in some parts of the UK there are also local elections).

Well there I am early in the morning, walking to work as is my habit, my polling card tucked into my pocket. This rather drab white carboard item is not essential to vote, it just speeds the process up. Unsurprisingly not very many others are about at this time in the morning, and none walking. The polling station is the village hall, nicely half-way between my house and the post office where I pick up my paper. A couple of signs marked 'Polling Station' are marked hung up on the noticeboards, and two more signs with 'Enter here' signs by the open door. I walk in and two very brave people (the stewards - all volunteers) are all ready there, though they look rather tired. I hate to think what time they were up to get ready for this. I hand over my card, my name is checked against the electoral roll, and I am handed my voting form. This one of the stewards pre-folds in half four times so that I will be able to fit it in the ballot box! He also punches a series of holes in one corner - I am not entirely certain why this is but I think it has sometime to do with verification.

With the form in my hand I now go into the voting-booth. These are wooden screens not unlike phone-booths. No one else is there. I put the form down on the surface, and look at it. The form has a list of the parties down one side, with the names of the candidates in small print underneath. Next to the each part name, on the other side of the form, is the box for the vote. You make the vote by making a simple cross.

It took me about 30 seconds to finally make up my mind, and I put my cross next to the UKIP. Then I fold the ballot paper up, and stuff it into the box. A parting farewell to the stewards, and then I went on my way to work.

Just as a side note, according the early coverage of the local results (we won't get the European results until Sunday evening after the Continent) shows a turnout average of maybe about 40%. If that stays true for the European election it'll be very interesting.

Also so far early indications are that Labour is having a pretty typical night for a mid-term governemnt i.e. not good. But considering how negative the publicity the government has received its a good night. The LibDems and Tories are having much of a muchness nights - the Tories probably faring slightly worse than the LibDems. Interestingly in some seats it appears that genuinely local issues - speed humps in Swindon for example - were vital in changing the council. I always like it when parties campaign on purely local issues. Last year the Tories swept the LibDems out of my local council mostly over the remodelling of one road junction and the disasterous impact this had on the entire town's traffic flow.

More tomorrow when more results are in.

In other news I've now read the opinions of Altmann v. Austria. I'm letting ideas slosh about in the brainbox for a while before I post, but it was (I thought anyway) really interesting.

And I've got tomorrow off work. Which is just as well since its 2am here!

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