I voted today.
The EU election ballot sheet seemed to have about 15 candidates on it. I had to mark an X in one of the boxes.
UKIP was near the bottom. And one of the candidates was a Facebook friend, Bill Etheridge.
It’s not often I really, really want to vote for someone. And I hardly ever get the chance. So I spent a long time lovingly drawing a big black X in the UKIP box, using my own pen rather than the easily-erasable pencil provided. It gradually became something of an artistic statement, as it got bigger and bolder and blacker. And I began to wonder whether I could make it look like a bullet hole in the ballot paper, with four jagged tears radiating from the centre.
After I’d folded up the completed ballot paper and slotted it into the ballot box, I wondered whether some artist voters also tend to see the box provided as a canvas on which to paint a variety of different X’s. A Salvador Dali X would probably be a soft, droopy X. And a Vincent van Gogh X would be a swirling starry night X. And an M. C. Escher X would be an impossible 3D X. And so on. There are any number of possible kinds of multi-coloured X’s. Given a few hours, I might even have been able to produce an X like the one above.
I was also thinking about something I figured out 25 years ago – which is that given that all the various bits of paper (ballot sheet, registration form, etc.) have unique numbers on them, and all associated either with each other or with me, it was possible for the electoral commission to collate all the information, and find out not only the total votes cast for each candidate, but exactly who voted for whom. And if they can do that, I bet they do do that. So I’m sure that the UK government has a record somewhere of every single vote I’ve ever cast.
And given that the political class now treats voters with utter contempt, I sometimes wonder whether they even bother to count the votes, and just divide them up between Labour, Conservative, and Lib Dem on some pre-agreed basis. That way, you’d always get a LibLabCon government. And the political establishment would need have no fear of voters, and so come to feel utter contempt for them.
The only thing that might rock the boat would be the arrival of upstart new parties, who weren’t in on the deal.
I’m very far from convinced that anything like this is actually happening. In fact, I don’t think it is. But in a time where outright fraud is endemic everywhere else, what’s to prevent it from extending to the ballot as well?
Anyway, probably my ballot paper has landed in front of some counter by now. And she’s taken it over to her supervisor to show him.
“What do I do with this one?” she’ll have asked. “It looks just like a bullet fired into the ballot paper, with lines radiating in all directions. Does that count as an X?”
And the supervisor will have studied my artwork carefully, and said, “No, we can’t have that. Voters are asked to mark a cross next to their chosen candidate, not produce an entire bleeding work of art. So mark it as a spoilt ballot.”
“And put it in the pile with all the other Picassos and Matisses and Leonardo da Vincis.”