May. 4th, 2017

rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
I have just finished the second of three two-hour slots standing outside a polling station in support of the LibDem candidate in the city centre. (There is a chance of winning there - better than in the ward I'm actually standing!). One can't campaign at the polling station; just stand there, looking pretty. Well, looking.

Starting before 8am, I stood alone wearing my party rosette outside the polling station, set in a five star hotel in one of the city's major business streets. That in itself was quite strange: the hotel staff, though berry polite, seemed slightly unprepared to have parties' advertising boards outside their entrance. When I got there, there were groups of tourists standing around, Americans waiting for a bus to take them the Holyrood Palace (not far, the walk would have done them some good!), Germans for two minibuses to take them to a golf course somewhere.

A middle aged American woman asked if I had a spare rosette. I think she might have been confused by the Democrat in Liberal Democrat.

After an hour or so, a young Tory arrived to loiter with me. He wore a blue kagoule with the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party logo emblazoned, but discretely, on the front. He was very chatty, and seemed to know more about my party than I did. He has the passion of the young: he kept talking about "the Leader" (meaning Ruth Davidson) in a way that was rather disturbing. But despite being very pro Tory, his views seemed at odds with his party. He was passionately pro EU - he had been heavily involved in "Conservative In" last year, and bemoaned the large number of Euro-philic MPs who were now silent. He believed in voting reform, being very in favour of proportional representation. He even thought some of Corbyn's economic policies made sense.

A little later we were joined by the Tory candidate for the ward, who also sounded very reasonable. She's practically certain to get in: my bet is she'll win in the first round with c 30% of the first preference votes. (Scotland council elections use the single transferable vote system, where you rank candidates by preference. So you get as many votes as there are candidates. And there are multiple rounds, as excess votes get reallocated and the lowest polling candidate drops out until all the spaces are filled.)

After my first shift, I went off for breakfast and to get my hair cut. My barber asked what I was up to, and I came clean and said I was involved in the election. I expressed doubt that standing outside the polling station actually accomplished anything; she said that she always noticed campaigners not campaigning, standing there - it shows we care and how dedicated we are. So maybe I am making a difference.

The second shift, noon to 2pm, was busier for voters but for almost all the time I was there alone. I was asked lots of questions. A small group of large American tourists asked me if the place on the corner was a pizzeria; it was, but I felt like suggesting maybe they should give pizza a miss for the sake of their hearts.

Many people asked me if this was the polling station. Given that I was standing beside a sign saying "Polling Place", I had to confess it was. One asked if I was sure it wasn't in the church down the road. There's no pleasing some people.

Several asked about the voting system, and whether they needed to rank every candidate. (No. And in the lower reaches, it probably doesn't make much difference.)

There was a Green activist there for a short while: he was spending the day going from polling station to polling station. He seemed a nice enough guy, though he quickly to go to another polling station. Then, just before 2pm, a middle aged women came and style next to the Tory advertising board. She wasn't wearing a Conservative kagoule, but a conservative tweed coat. Not did she have a rosette. Maybe she was just loitering.

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