How to Annoy Liberal Party Booth Volunteers
For non-Australian readers, a brief explainer: preferential voting in Australian elections means that voters must number each political party in order of preference. To assist with this, party volunteers distribute “how-to-vote” cards outside voting places (polling booths) which help guide their supporters on — you guessed it — how to vote.
In my time in Australia, I have handed out approximately five million how-to-vote cards in numerous state, federal and local elections. I even volunteered for the referendum on whether Australia should become a Republic but, for the life of me, I can’t recall for what purpose we distributed how-to-vote cards in the context of a simple yes/no proposition. Did I hand out A4 sheets of paper with “YES” emblazoned in size 98 font? I would have been hungover or drunk (or both) at the time, so it is a shadow of a memory at best.
Anyway, the point is that I understand the “how-to-vote” card distributor mentality better than Dian Fossey knew her mountain gorillas. Delving deep into this rich and granular anthropological knowledge, this is my “Seasoned Hacks Guide to Annoying Liberal Party Volunteers on Election Day, 2010 Edition”. As with Spiderman, I am aware that with great power comes great responsibility, so I have calibrated my advice with great care.
Firstly, not all election day volunteers are the same. Here is a brief overview:
The Cake-baker: generally female, this volunteer is a long-time Liberal voter but by no means ideological or even especially interested in politics. She probably knows and likes the candidate personally — perhaps is even married to him — but bears no animosity towards people of other parties. The harshest thing she has ever said about the ALP is “that Paul Keating doesn’t seem like a very nice man”. She would be a little upset if the Liberals lost, but would have largely forgotten about it by Monday morning.
TARGET STATUS: Low. Smile and avoid.
The Favour-Doer: this is the friend, brother-in-law, cousin or cricket teammate of a Party activist or candidate. He is purely doing this because he said yes while drinking, and may not even have registered to vote. He cannot wait for this to be over. By Monday morning, it will take him between 30-60 seconds to recall which Party won the election.
TARGET STATUS: Very low. Knowing, sympathetic smile, avoid.
The Life Member: This is the booth captain, or his deputy. They are lifelong activists and loyalists. They sincerely believe the ALP are dangerous socialists and that Liberal Governments will add zeroes to their bank balance and inches to their dicks. This is the most important day of the year for them, more important than the wedding of their second daughter or their wife’s funeral.
TARGET STATUS: High. Annoy with vigor, but expect seasoned push-back.
The Young Liberal: This acne-riddled virgin will have volunteered to work every shift. He plans to be Prime Minister one day, but will end up at Macquarie Bank just like the others. His face is most notable for the absence of any discernible chin. He is eager, needy, desperate to please, as you would expect from a pimply, chinless virgin who wants to be Prime Minister.
TARGET STATUS: Unbelievably high. You can ruin his day, and possibly his life.
So that should help you choose your mark. Life-members are a challenge, but a worthy one. Young Libs are easy fodder, but endless fun.
So here are ten ways to go about annoying them.
1. Stride with gusto past all other Party representatives, with your hand out-stretched, grinning widely, and go straight to the Liberal. This will delight him, fill him with a sense of loving kindness. After he gleefully thrusts the HTV card into your hand, look at it, then at him, and say: “Sorry, wrong one”. Give it back to him as if it were a used diaper, find the nearest ALP volunteer, very obviously grab one of theirs, kiss them on the cheek, and walk extremely slowly into the booth.
2. Go up to Lib, ask: “Are you the Party led by that wonderful Brendan Nelson?” When they awkwardly explain that he was two leaders ago, walk away, sighing with audible disgust. Seek solace in the hugs of the nearby ALP volunteer.
3. With poker face, ask the Lib: “Are you the ‘stop the boats’ party?” They will say something to the effect of “yes”. Shake your head and say “my grandfather owned a boat”, and reject all further entreaties.
4. Ask the Lib: “If I prefer sex to my family, how I do I reflect that in my Senate vote”?
5. Ask the Lib if their HTV cards are on recycled paper. They will say yes. Say in a loud voice: “You people disgust me!” Hug a Green, by way of adding to the confusion.
6. Go to the Lib and ask to see the booth captain. Once you are introduced, whisper to him: “I belong to Opus Dei and I wanted to confirm that Mr Abbott is a fellow member before casting my vote for him. Are you able to confirm, preferably in Latin?”
7. Go to every party volunteer asking “Are you the Liberals?” When they say no, pointedly refuse to accept their HTV card. Arrive at the Liberal spot last and ask the same question. When they delightedly say “yes!”, stare at them for 10-15 seconds before saying “I blame you for the death of my uncle” and walk away. Just walk away.
8. If you are under 30, go up to the oldest Liberal volunteer and say “I haven’t vote for you guys since ’75.”
9. Ask the Young Liberal “who is your Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs, Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law?’ If they answer correctly (Luke Hartsuyker), groan theatrically and say “I can’t stand him”. If they don’t know, sigh in exasperation and tell them, “well, his name is Luke Hartsuyker, and I blame him for the death of my uncle”.
10. Take the Liberal card, but say “should I take two or are they quite absorbent?”