The largest polling station for South Africa’s 2009 election is in London, where more than 7,000 South Africans abroad were expected to vote today. In New York, the Consulate expected some 250 citizens to make their mark some time during the 12 hours that the polling station was open, from 7am to 7pm.
I cast my vote this morning in an extremely well organized process. The multiple stations provided screening to ensure you had pre-registered and that you had the appropriate documents (ID and passport.) After various further validations and completing another form (under the watchful eyes of election observers), I finally got my ballot paper and multiple envelopes.
It was refreshing to see the long list of options and note that the ‘sealed-with-a-kiss-logoed’ KISS party (Keep It Straight and Simple) was still contesting elections. So much of the media leading up to the election has focused on the handful of the — could it have been two dozen? — party choices.
The rest of my countrypeople will be casting their vote next week on the 22nd, a public holiday in a month of four-day weeks. With so few experiences having voted — this is the third time since 1994, as I found myself disenfranchised for the previous election– I still get a thrill from participating in the democratic process. May it be ever so, because it would be a tragedy to become complacent and apathetic about a right my family and others fought to hard to win.