Last Saturday the country went to the polls, for all the good it’s done. I went and did my democratic duty at the local community centre; since my hero was at work I had to take boy genius with me. As we waited in a queue that I’m sure could’ve been seen from space, we were approached by the usual suspects handing out ‘how to vote’ cards. Each and every one of them attempted to give one to boy genius and that simple act made me a little sad.
Boy genius turned 18 earlier this year. He’s now old enough to vote. And he never will. Even though voting is compulsory here.
At least he got to vicariously enjoy his first non-voting experience. He got to line up for ages on a windy grey morning and listen to the bored conversation of strangers discussing the chances of rain. He got to stand beside me in a booth while I numbered squares. But best of all, he got to post my votes in the boxes, an activity that filled him with delight the likes of which I’m sure the scrutineer didn’t see again that day.
Voting complete we slipped into the shopping centre next door and rewarded his good behaviour with the morning-tea of his choice and a peep at the 2011 Melways on display at the newsagent.
I know some people find voting to be a pain (obviously not those people in some countries that risk grievous bodily harm or death and trek for days to reach a voting booth anyway) but just you try to take away their right to vote. Boy genius will never be able to exercise that right whether he wants to or not. He’s an adult but he’s a child, it’s a mixed blessing we live with, but the reminders occasionally make me wistful for what might have been