Making Sausage

Apparently I’ve not managed to write about my upcoming job with the Canadian federal election, even though I’ve been sitting on this news since like, spring? I guess nothing much has really happened until this week.

So yes, I’ll be working on the federal election! We’re expecting the writ to drop (government dissolved, campaigning begins) on either the 8th or the 15th, because as I just learned it only happens on Sundays. I’ll be working evenings and weekends as an Assistant to the Automation Coordinator, or AAC, until the end of October. In Canada, voting districts are determined mainly by population numbers and geography, and each electoral district has a main office to coordinate and manage voter information, run advance polling, answer questions, and do training and such. The Returns Office, as it’s called, was recently moved to my area and so I got this job offer through word-of-mouth.

The Automation Coordinator does light IT for the office, manages the computer system that stores voter information, and generates/prints reports for the political candidates and other stakeholders. My job as assistant is to do whatever the AC doesn’t get round to during a the day, which as I understand it, is basically the busywork of watching printers. Probably it’s more than that, I don’t know. This week I had my first visits to the new offices, as well as a big meeting yesterday with the primary staff for our new location. The AC and the Returns Officer (boss) are really friendly and easygoing, and aside from sacrificing my evenings, I’m really excited about this opportunity.

Mainly that’s because I’ve often enjoyed going “behind-the-scenes” for things like this and seeing just how things function. I don’t consider myself incredibly interested in political systems generally, but as a voter, I’ve always just shown up on the day, done the card in the ballot box, and gone home, with no idea of just how much work goes into making sure that the box is even there. And that things are fair and accessible and unbiased. I’ve already learned a lot just by chatting with the others, and I expect to learn a lot more before October ends.

So far I’m already impressed at how much work Elections Canada does to ensure that everybody has a chance to vote, and my boss has talked a lot about the work that’s done between elections to reduce or eliminate barriers to voting access. Things like: setting up polling stations in large apartment buildings or seniors’ complexes. Or in one funny case, creating a polling location in a tiny town after residents vigorously complained about having to vote in a nearby town with whom they had a fierce, longstanding rivalry. We might roll our eyes, but the issue is treated non-judgementally and seriously, if it seems like it’s going to present a genuine barrier to people doing their civic duty.

When I read about all the voting chicanery that goes on in other countries (un-registering voters, gerrymandering, ballot tampering &c) it’s dawning on me how important it is that our electoral process is so reliable and non-controversial. It’s been stressed to us several times that Elections Canada does its level best to maintain public trust and impartiality, and I guess I’d always taken that for granted, too.

Anyway, I’m not sure how much more specific I can be about what goes on from this point forward, but I thought the whole thing was worth mentioning. And now I have!

Thing I Saw: Super Metroid surprise-dropped on the Nintendo Switch, today! Nintendo added a bunch of SNES classics to their online subscription service and I am very hyped. You’ve no idea how often I want to play SM on a nice handheld, that isn’t a phone with a wonky bluetooth controller or something.

Thing I Learned: S U P E R M E T R O I D

I’m Grateful For: A fair and democratic electoral process!

Why can’t this be in a format nicer than 480p, whyyyyy