I was super active five years ago.
Attending rallies crouched at the back of a Vigo, waving Pakistani (and a STAG) Flags till my arms and elbows gave way, adorning T shirts supporting my candidate of choice.
Leading up to the day of the election.
That was when I had my polling station duty as a candidate representative and reached there by 8am
That punch of energy, that surge of adrenaline was unmatchable.
I know what it feels like to believe in a candidate. I also know it makes you do things you otherwise won’t. The oldest of aunties showing up on wheelchairs only for Imran Khan. Endless queues for voting as the ballot boxes kept being delayed and mismanaged.
A lot of ground realities unfold when you spend 16 hours inside a polling station.
Here are a few to-dos for tomorrow morning.
1. Carry an umbrella
Or a white dupatta
Or at least a hat or a cap.
It is still July and we are still in Pakistan.
2. Carry a bottle of water. For the love of God. And not those teeny tiny fashion-y ones. Carry a 1.5 litre bottle of water. Please. And don’t share. If you have a heart softening condition that attacks you periodically, carry two bottles.
3. Always read lists carefully. Figure which room of the polling station your own registration number belongs to.
Memorise or take with you on a piece of paper your Block Code and Silsila Number
4. If you have elderly people with you, take an air conditioned car with you to keep them comfortable outside. Stand in line yourself. Speak to the polling officer and explain before you make them move from the car.
If an air conditioned vehicle is not available then go for your vote first and try to make friends with people there. Ask them to notify when it’s low traffic. Do something. Try your best not to make elderly suffer in the heat only because our balloting process isn’t the most efficient in the world.
Always figure which room WITHIN the polling station do they need to go to before you take them inside. That’s a separate ordeal.
5. Carry a book. Or a fully charged mobile with music (and earphones!). It’s a long wait usually.
6. Carry your original CNIC. Not copies. Not coloured copies either. Original. Please.
7. White ballot paper is for Provincial Assembly
Green Ballot Paper is for National Assembly.
Make sure you cast both.
8. Ensure the Polling agent has signed behind each ballot paper you are about to cast. It won’t count if he/ she hasn’t!
9. You have NO compulsion to divulge who you are voting for. Infact it is no one’s right to ask you the question either. It is your right to vote anonymously or there would’ve been Name, Class, Section, School branch options not he ballot paper. Not just a place to stamp.
Hide when you stamp.
With a pencil box if you want.
10. Wear light clothes. The most comfortable you own.
An oversize T shirt or a loose Kurta would be ideal.
Slacks, loose Shalwars, a comfortable pair of linen pants are all great options. I would steer clear of denim (jeans) and skinny pants.
11. I won’t wear makeup. When it runs you look awful. If you wear make up, make sure it’s waterproof and with skin maybe just stick with some corrector concealer and a brush of blush. Choose a good brand of lipstick. Gloss will annoy you if it gets sticky after a while. A tinted lip balm is a good idea to keep them lips chapped.
keep wipes in your bag to ensure you look half decent if/ when it runs.
11. Keep wet wipes anyway
Public service Message from a new Mum. These things are so handy.
12. Don’t ask other people who they’re voting for.
Also resist the urge to convince and canvass when in the queue to vote. I know it gets boring and the vote and choice to vote is all in your mind but the fact is, vote and grave are never shared. Vote aur qabar, apni apni.
Just this one teeny little thing you may do.
For muslim voters: A small request. Kindly pray two nafl istikhara tonight (or in the am). Seek Allah’s counsel before heading out to vote. And please do recite this dua.
اللَّهُمَّ لاَ تُسَلِّطْ عَلَيْنَا مَنْ لاَ يَرْحَمُنَا
Allahumma La Tusallit Alaina Man La Yarhamuna.
Ya ALLAH hum par aise shakhs ko Musalllat na kar jo hum par raham na kare
English: Oh Allah , do not give power over us to those who will not have mercy on us.
13. Once you’re done with voting try to get out of the polling station without any delay. There’s usually a long line of people waiting in very uncomfortable circumstances. Even if you find a phuppi ki khala ki navaasi ki neighbour ke kuttay ki dog walker.
No. Just step out and leave.
14. If more than one family members are voting at the same station which is usually the case, predefine a point of assembly preferably in shade somewhere. Reach there once you’re done voting.
15. Can’t say this enough. CHARGE YOUR PHONES OR IF YOU ARE READING THIS TOO LATE CARRY A POWER BANK.
Polling stations are worse than Istanbul Airport. Boards don’t make sense. People don’t make sense. You never find anyone. Like ever.
5 years ago, this was me. An enthusiastic voter supporter. I still look at this picture and smile at all that life has thrown my way in these five years. That doesn’t change the fact that the one day I spent at the polling station duty was difficult to say the least, looking at humanity so clueless and bumping into each other and walls.
Let’s do it better this year.
May the best candidate win and prove to be the absolute best for our country and all of us.
Prosperity. Compassion. Lots and lots of love