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“Hi there, can I have your surname please?”
I looked up at the next impatient voter looming over my desk.
“Thanks, and have you voted before in this current election?”
Yes indeedy ladies and gentlemen, whilst the vast majority of our state was exercising their democratic right yesterday, yours truly was huffing and puffing behind the scenes.
Thought I’d share with you all about this other “side hustle” which I’ve been doing for a while now (following on from being a soccer referee).
Mind you this is probably the 3rd or 4th election which I’m involved in, and each time it’s been pretty much the same.
Ok, first things first – although it can just be a one day (election day) commitment, get ready to WORK.
No shirking around in democracy here.
The typical election day starts around 7am… yes 7 AM – in which you are expected to help set up the booths, co-ordinate the ballot papers and are assigned to your individual roles.
Which are quite varied actually, from queue/crowd control (it can get quite rowdy), to handing out ballot papers (after ticking off the electoral roll), to the more complex absentee and out-of-electoral voting.
The doors open from 8am and close at 6pm sharp. During this time, the day just FLIES, as there is a steady stream of voters.
Post-6pm, the actual counting process starts, in which all the ballot papers are sorted by their preferential votes, then counted.
Everything is done by hand, which is extremely time-consuming, monotonous, error-prone and highly BORING.
If you are at a small electoral office, expect everything to finish at around 9:30/10pm, if you are at one of the bigger centres… well, I’ve finished past 1am a couple of times before.
Why do it?
But TheFrugalSamurai, if the day is so friggin long, why do it?
Well, the pay can be pretty decent yknow!
Not gonna lie – if you’re not gonna be compensated fairly for all those hours on a Saturday, not many people would do it.
The pay ranges from around $400 for the lowly pleb (election official) to about $1,200 (election manager).
That’s not shabby for a day’s work right?
But that’s not all.
Apart from the money, I find that it’s a great way to get a feel for what’s going on at the grassroots level.
You encounter all members of society and I think it’s a timely reminder of different views and opinions as opposed to the information “bubble” we live in, each day.
I’ve had conversations about the economy, immigration, which politician is rumored to be gay, cost of bread… everything and anything yesterday.
You also get to form a bond with those who you are working alongside on the day, ranging from uni students all the way to retired pensioners.
Yesterday, in our midst, we had a data scientist, online entrepreneur, career banker and of course a personal finance and development blogger mixed in.
Great fun if you have the right co-workers!
Um, well there actually are quite a few doors which open up.
I’ve gotten a couple of job offers before to assist the electoral process full-time, (terrifying to think about this FT) as well as staying in touch with a couple of the guys I’ve worked with in the past.
Also, if you are really keen, you can work your way up to that lucrative $1,200 a day BOOYAH.
Although elections only come around every few years, and I think senior positions are actually highly sought after – so it could be a long slog.
How to Apply?
You’ll need to register your interest, and then answer a short interview style questionnaire, which reminded me of a retail job to be honest – stuff like “how do you deal with people?” um, good. And “tell me about an experience of dealing with a person” er… I have spoken to a human before.
So it’s not too hard.
From there, if your answers are deemed worthy, you’ll receive a letter of offer via email detailing the positioned offered to you.
Most likely if you haven’t done it before, i.e. a Greenhorn – you’ll need to start from the bottom, which is just as a casual staff employed to count votes (where I started from!) – the most dreaded and boring aspect, but hey, we all gotta start somewhere!
Hm, working on election day is certainly not for anyone, but if you have nothing better to do that day, want to meet new people and get rewarded for it, it could be for you!
Sometimes though, I wonder if the process could be better automated through digital voting, there’s gotta be a better way than manual counting right?
WILL SOMEONE THINK OF THE TREES.
But then we are vulnerable to hacks and fraud and all that nasty online behaviour.
So it looks like it’s here to stay.
And a final, final note – it’s days like election day in which you see that it takes all sorts to make this society of ours.
That’s democracy for ya!
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