Saturday, 24 March 2007

The New South Wales state election is on today. My electorate, Lakemba, has 19 polling stations. I voted this morning at the outpatients room inside Canterbury Hospital, which also serves as a polling station for the neighbouring electorate of Canterbury.

Lakemba is represented in the Legislative Assembly (lower house) by the premier, Morris Iemma. This is Iemma's first election. He came to his position after the previous premier resigned. Opinion polls show Labor (Iemma's party) in the lead. The opposition Liberal Party (actually it's a misnomer because they are conservatives) has been out of power for 12 years but despite that the polls show them trailing the Labor Party.

At the polling station (see picture) several party representatives are visible handing out how-to-vote cards. No Greens representative, unfortunately.

The polling slip for the Legislative Assembly is a slim piece of yellow paper that you could fold once and put in your pocket. For the Legislative Council (upper house), however, the polling slip is a huge sheet of white paper. There are two ways to select members of the Legislative Council. You can either place a number in the box 'above the line' (to select a political party) or you can choose instead to vote for individual candidates by putting numbers in the great number of boxes located 'below the line'.

I chose to select a political party by putting numbers in the boxes 'above the line'.

Polling stations opened at 8am and will close at 6pm. Tonight there will be election coverage on TV. I will be able to view it on my new, wide-screen digital LCD unit because today there's a team of technicians installing a digital aerial on our apartment block.

Watching election results come in from the hundreds of polling stations around the state is fascinating.

New South Wales is one of the oldest democratic entities in the world, with a Legislative Council, having been established in 1825, opened partially to elected representation in 1842.

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