I had the opportunity to observe the voting process in the UK. For the most part, in this election, it was local council seats up for grabs. My husband and his mother, with me in tow, hopped into the car and drove to the voting site. My first thoughts, as we pulled into the parking lot, were:
1. the location was completely unadorned – making it hard to tell that we were in the right place;
2. with no signs to direct us to the right door, it was an added guessing game – in the end we resorted to just assuming that the propped door was implied to be the one we needed (it was).
Once inside, we found the place basically empty save for a couple of booths set up at one end of the room and a desk at the other with a couple of officials. Now, in the UK, people need to be registered to Vote ahead of time and are sent a postcard as evidence of this a month or so prior to the election day. This in mind, the process for receiving a ballot was almost horrifyingly easy to me, as all my husband had to do was literally slap his postcard onto the table and confirm that his name was that one the card (i.e. “are you ____?” “Yes, that’s me.” “here’s your ballot.”) and a slip of paper was shoved into his hands which he then took to one of the booths, made a mark, and then dropped it into the box back at the desk.
I come from Minnesota – the state in the US with the largest (I repeat: THE LARGEST) voter turnout for the USA; I come from a sub-culture of voters. It is a great and wonderful thing to me to see people take an interest in the direction their country takes.
But it was horrifying to me the voting in the UK for these two reasons:
1. My husband and his mother were the ONLY ONES who had bothered to show up from their lane that night (in short: very low voter turnout);
and 2. In the States, when I voted; they took a little more effort to verify your identity before giving you a ballot (call me crazy, but I’m slightly paranoid that there is even a remote possibility that someone else could impersonate me and steal my vote). Anyone could have stolen that postcard and, because they didn’t verify my husband was who he said he was, anyone could have taken it to the polling place, gotten the ballot, filled it in, and no one would be any wiser.
I am a paranoid person; I’ve long come to terms with the fact that I don’t trust anyone or anything easily. I assume this is a cultural thing, as I don’t exactly have a reason to be so leery and I’ve found that a significant number of Americans are the same. This thought process was verified in its own way when both my husband and his mother agreed that people in the UK, generally speaking, don’t think that anyone would care enough to steal someone else’s vote – I.e. they aren’t that paranoid.
It’s been three months now since I arrived in the UK (well, a day early, but close enough). Maybe it’s been because I’ve been so busy with the wedding (though it hasn’t felt that way) but I would have thought that I would be having a harder time now. Closer to that 4-month mark that I put so much weight on before I left, I really am not feeling an real significant difference to how I felt, as far as homesickness goes, back in February. Short of somehow being the exception to the rule, as days progress I have to ask myself if it wasn’t just a bit overrated.
A friend of mine back in the States asked me: “how does it feel to be married?” Well, pretty much the same way I felt when I was still engaged – just now with a ring on my finger that I now try not to tap out of round against anything.
My husband, who was not as used to rings as I am (I used to wear them back when I was single to ward off clients who would attempt to hook up with me while I was working – surprisingly I also found that, when I wear a ring, people tended to treat me with more respect… or at least that’s how it felt to me), was quick to point this out as we were driving around the other day. “I didn’t realise how much my hand knocks into things in a day,” he noted, “I keep finding myself tapping my fingers or bumping into things – before there wasn’t a sound to alert me, but now that I have a chunk of metal on my hand, I’m suddenly aware of it.”
Most married couples and/or people who wear jewellery on their hands will probably read that and go: “Well, duh!” and they are right, it is kind of obvious, but it isn’t something we think about until we have something expensive that is more-or-less permanently affixed to our bodies. Kind of like how we don’t realise we use our hands to swipe our hair back behind our shoulders as often as we do until we snag our dangling earrings along with it (ow).