Alden Boon

How to Vote. Literally.

08/09/2015

2015 will forever go down as a bewitching year for politics. Wait, did I say ‘bewitching’? I meant ‘bewildering’. All around the world the political landscape is changing. Somehow, Donald Grump Trump is a forerunner in the Presidential race. Kanye West announced his 2020 Presidential Campaign during MTV Video Music Awards 2015, a declaration that has Kim Kardashian inching one step closer to becoming a First Lady involved in rearguard politics.

In Singapore, the election period is always a spectacle. Erstwhile Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean found himself in a pickle as he became overly defensive — over an Instagram photo of Sylvia Lim tucking into a plate of oyster omelette. PAP candidate Sim Ann threw vitriol at Dr Chee Soon Juan; in a cloyingly saccharine voice she spoke and instead came off as a ditzy school girl speaking ill of the boy who does not love her back. Like Voldemort’s Avada Kedavra, it backfired.

Interesting characters that only feed our fodder come out of the woodwork. Hopeful candidates include a certain beret-sporting Uber driver, and also Kevryn Lim who hashtags her own name (her narcissism seems incongruous until you hear that she’s an ex-model). Then there’s 25-year-old blogger Han Hui Hui, whose proclivity seems to be screaming into the microphone every five seconds: “Return Our CPF!” Does she even contribute to CPF? According to her official website, which is a blogspot domain and uses a cursive font, yes and “since 16”.

Amidst the ongoing brouhaha it is easy to forget the gravity of an election. You’re voting someone into power. There’s so much talk about whom to vote for, and what issues to vote for… but do you really know HOW to vote?

And so, I thought to produce this guide on how to vote, literally.

Before the actual act of casting your vote…
1. Your vote is secret. But are you wearing your heart on your sleeve? Are you jeopardising the sanctity of your vote, sartorially? On Polling Day, your outfit of choice must exclude white or any shade of blue, orange, and yellow. Heed this not and you might find yourself at the receiving end of wet paint — or blood — hurled by zealots whose views differ from yours, à la PETA and its vigilantism.

Even the slightest allusion is prohibited. So be a rule-abiding citizen and avoid t-shirts bearing these pop-culture motifs:

clothestoavoid

2. Your vote is important: It determines if a person could become a millionaire overnight. But your vote holds even more weight when it’s a last-minute one. Sure, there is the beauty of getting the task out of the way and kicking back the entire day. But why would you relinquish your power and clout, however ephemeral they may be? Be the mouse that gets the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Make the candidates beg for your vote.

3. Do not leave your house without your Poll Card. It’s that cheap-looking piece of paper that resembles a newspaper coupon.

4. Amongst the items you cannot bring into a Polling Station are campaign materials; alcohol; and sharp objects. Remember to empty your bags of any glitterfied posters announcing your run for office treasurer or class prefect.

At the Polling Station…

1. Respect the agents, election officials and policemen — that means absolute zero eye contact with them. If spoken to, avert your gaze to the chest level. Better yet, keep your body bowed the entire time.

2. It’s a ballot paper, not a ballet paper, so you are not required to pirouette all the way to the booth. It’s a relief, as a pirouette is almost impossible to execute with your body bowed.

3. Remember, the fate of the nation lies in your dominant hand. So while in the booth, really take the time to mull over every single word the party members have said, every promise, and every transgression. If you heeded my earlier advice, and you haven’t been stopped by security — now do you see the importance of following the guide to a T? — then you should arrive at the booth at exactly 7:52pm. Plenty of time.

4. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe is only permitted if like me, your vote is either for an incumbent like Khaw Boon Wan, or an opposition party whose kingpin is a bigot. Yes, it’s Sophie’s Choice. Generally, this mode of voting is not frowned upon; but singing the rhyme while you’re in the booth will likely get you arrested.

5. The act of casting a vote seems simple, but it is not. Remember, you are supposed to cross ‘x’ your vote. Oxymoronic, I know, because a cross makes it seem like you’re crossing out the party you want to see in Parliament. But such is politics: a paradox.

Two intersecting lines shall determine Singapore’s destiny for the next five years. And whose faces you’ll see on TV but never in person for the next five years. And whose candidacy you’d again need to deliberate over five years later. And it all comes down to that cross.

There is a certain art to producing a cross. Since sharp objects are not allowed in the polling station, you’d have to do without callipers. Make sure the ends of the lines touch — but never spill out — the edges of the rectangular box.

 

X-Marks-the-Spot

 

When drawn perfectly, the opposite angles in a cross are identical. There is a golden number for the respective angles a and b, but given the heft and stress of voting, it could be impossible to draw even a straight line. Generally, as long as angle a measures in the range of 120 to 150 degrees, and b 50 to 75 degrees, your vote is safe.

5. Drop your ballot into the ballot box. Heave a sigh of relief. Rejoice, as the days of hearing about the AHPETC saga are over. The matter, which hitherto has been discussed ad nauseam, shall be buried, only to be unearthed five years from now. To express your unbridled joy, skip your way out of the Polling Station.

Jump for joy!

And so you’ve done it. You’ve cast a vote. Now head back home. Have a drinking game and bottoms up each time the Returning Officer returns to the screen. Or when Han Hui Hui screams: “Return our CPF!” Or when Kevyrn Lim hashtags her own name in her live tweets.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.

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