There is a big election coming up in the USA which is of interest to almost everyone around the world. I have been thinking about the voting process, why we vote, how we vote and thought I would share some of my observations and experiences.
Growing up my parents always voted for a certain political party because as farmers, this political party tended to look after their interests. When I was able to vote I automatically kept voting for this same political party because I liked the idea that they had farmers best interests at heart, even though we moved off the farm when I was 16 years of age, I hadn’t formed any other opinion so it seemed easy and felt good to vote this way.
I have noticed that in America there seems to be a trend in the way people vote depending on where they live. People I follow on social media who live in Hollywood or New York seem to be vocal about a certain political party/leader whereas people I follow who live in central America seem to have a liking for the other political party. I may be totally wrong about this in terms of fact, but it is just a general observation from a non-American. I guess this is because they vote for the party/leader who they believe will look after their interests depending on the industry the work in and where they live – much like my parents on the farm. And in my opinion, this is OK. We determine what is important to us, and how we want to live our lives and then vote accordingly.
Last year I worked for the Australian Electoral Commission – for 3 weeks in a pre-polling booth and then for a few weeks after the election counting votes. I made a lot of observations during this time. When it comes time to vote there are quite a few different ways people deal with the experience. I found that new Australian citizens were the most proud and excited to vote. Often they would take selfies or photos of each other at the polling booth looking very proud to be voting in an Australian election for the first time. They seemed to love and treasure having a voice in their new country. This was quite heartwarming to witness.
But overwhelmingly the majority of voters got their names signed off the electoral role and got out of there as quickly as they could. They really didn’t seem to care who they voted for, if they even bothered to vote at all. And you know, I totally get it! Many of us have lost faith in our politicians and it seems overwhelming and a waste of time to vote for anyone. When we count the votes it is interesting to read all the comments on the ballot papers – there are lots of swear words, derogatory comments about the politicians, and lots of penis pictures….. it gives us some light relief at the end of a very long day at the polling booth. And you can feel the frustration from the voters, unfortunately the politicians never get to read these comments or feel what the people are feeling. The best way to send your message is to actually cast a valid vote – but then who do you vote for…. When it all seems so hopeless!
One day when counting votes a few weeks after election day, I was paired up with a man to do a complicated count. We had to carefully look at each ballot paper and put it in a certain pile according to the order of votes. He held on to a vote and made a comment to me “Gee, you wouldn’t want this person picking your lotto numbers”. I didn’t understand what he meant so I asked him to explain himself “Well, this person picked the winners in losing order. They picked the person who came in last place first and the person who came first, last”. I still didn’t really understand what his point was, so I quizzed him a bit more. It turns out that this man likes to vote for the winner!! During the election he looks carefully at the polls and on election day he votes for the party he thinks will win, because he likes to be a winner and on the winning team. I was totally baffled by this strategy as it was one I had never considered for myself. I explained to him how I voted for the party that I felt would represent my interests and concerns and that I never considered voting the way he did. This was an eye opener for both of us and we both learned something new from each other.
First time 18 year old voters always seem totally overwhelmed when in the polling both. As electoral officers we often have to help people vote – we can’t tell them who to vote for of course – but we often help them fill in the ballot papers correctly and explain how to vote. First time voters often ask for help and you can see the fear and confusion in their eyes. They seem to feel the weight of their voting responsibility but are totally baffled about who to vote for. I am sure they often vote for who their parents vote for (as I did) but hopefully over time they can make conscious votes. But it is great to see them turning up and giving it a go, no matter how daunting it feels to be making decisions about their country.
It can be difficult wading through all the political bull shit that is thrown at us during election time, and sorting out the truth from the lies, but if we can take the time to “feel” what we should do with our vote, it can help. I always like to believe that my vote will make the difference, and when counting votes it is often evident that when it is close that every vote certainly does count. Imagine that your vote is going to decide the election – what “feels” best/right for you in that moment. Make an informed thoughtful decision by all means, but also vote with your heart/feel rather than with logic/reason/mind as you may have a much better voting experience. If we can all vote with a good feeling in our heart, rather than with anger, obligation, confusion and fear, we will not only provide ourselves with a more enjoyable voting experience, but we will be investing that good energy towards our country. So even if you are fed up with the politicians, make your vote in a way that makes you feel good, and this feel-good energy will perpetuate through the polling booths and hopefully to our leaders too. But if you vote with the negative energy, then this is what you will be expecting to get back.
A conscious, feel good vote, no matter who you vote for, will be a winner for everyone.
I believe that knowing who we are at our unique soul level holds the key to living an authentic and joyful life. Once we know who we are, we can begin to BE who we are, and then BECOME who we were always destined to be.
Copyright 2023 Paula Vanderzon