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Another conversation with a taxi driver

Taxi driver: So, are you going to be over here for long, then?

Me (with some pride): Until Tuesday - I'm doing commentary on the elections for the BBC.

Taxi driver (with greater pride): I was the second person to vote in my polling station, at seven this morning. Did you exercise your democratic right today?

Me: No, I live in Belgium and we don't have elections today. And voting is compulsory there anyway so it's not really the same question of exercising your rights.

Taxi driver (suspiciously): But can you still spoil your vote?

Me: Yes, you can.

Taxi driver: That's all right then. That's what I did this morning, I spoiled all three of my votes. I'm an anarchist and I have to be true to my principles.

Me (incredulously): You spoiled all three of your ballot papers?

Taxi driver (taking advantage of the fact that we have stopped at traffic lights, showing me a picture on his mobile phone): There. See?

(On the phone's screen is a picture of three ballot papers, each of which bears the handwritten message "ANARCHY + FREEDOM". Each also appears to have a paragraph of printed text pasted to it.)

Me (even more incredulously): Did you actually glue your manifesto to each ballot paper???

Taxi-driver (with even greater pride): Not mine, but a quote from Pierre Joseph Proudhon; he was the first of the great anarchist thinkers. It's too long to write out by hand, so I have a stack of copies printed out, and I make sure I always have them with me. And a tube of Pritt-stick of course.

Me: Do you mind if I write a blog entry about this?

Taxi-driver: Fire away, just as long as you don't use my real name.


( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 5th, 2011 01:54 pm (UTC)
But what's the quote? To be governed?
May. 5th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
belfast taxi driver
...is to be watched,inspected,spied upon......................
May. 5th, 2011 02:10 pm (UTC)
Now there is a man living by his principles. I admire his stand. Got to beat the millions of people who won't bother even going to the polling station.
May. 5th, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC)
that is absolutely cool :) -- the story, I mean...
May. 5th, 2011 02:21 pm (UTC)
Somehow, I actually find this story wonderfully heartening, if bizarre.

I have always had sympathies with a certain branch of anarchism, ever since I saw some anarchist posters in my youth; they consisted of a large sheet of paper with about a dozen black Xs across the middle. Underneath was written, in small print. "This is your lifetime supply of democracy. Use it carefully".
May. 5th, 2011 02:25 pm (UTC)
Wouldn't work so well with AV...
May. 5th, 2011 07:34 pm (UTC)
Well, yeah, and I'm a huge supporter of electoral reform.

Unfortunately, I'm also not residen in the UK any more.
May. 5th, 2011 02:24 pm (UTC)
That is just priceless!
May. 5th, 2011 02:33 pm (UTC)
All ballots identified as spoiled are shown to all candidates (so they can object to the identification: for instance, if someone has written "Labour" or "Joe Bloggs" on the paper, or - more often - if there is a clear cross in one box and a vague squiggle in another). So quite a few people write a message on a ballot. I did it in the 2003 election: I wrote "Can't Vote for War Criminals", or words to that effect, across the boxes. It was in Cambridge, where the Labour candidate was Anne Campbell, which seems unfair, but them's the breaks. It seemed especially unfair when Anne in person canvassed me, as I was gardening in front of my house, about two hours later.
May. 5th, 2011 02:34 pm (UTC)
I mean 2005 of course.
May. 5th, 2011 02:38 pm (UTC)
I was *so* tempted today, to put a 1 in the Yes box and a 2 in the No box. My guess is that it would have been counted...
May. 5th, 2011 02:57 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't be so sure. There's a lot of case law on what sorts of marks are and are not considered valid votes - for example, a smiley face is just as good as a cross - but it all comes down to whether or not the mark is unambiguous (and does not serve to identify the voter). I don't have my agent's manual any more, but my recollection is that 1, 2, etc would be a spoiled ballot, as there is ambiguity as to whether higher numbers mean a lower preference or a higher level of approval. But I may be misremembering - it's been a few years.
May. 5th, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC)
Bloody brilliant. Did you see the quotation?
May. 5th, 2011 03:02 pm (UTC)
Excellent. That is taking your vote serious at quite an angle. I spoiled one of my votes today but I did a rather unimaginative 'None of Them' scrawl. No glue required.
May. 5th, 2011 03:05 pm (UTC)
May. 5th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC)
"I cannot in good conscience support any of these individuals."
May. 5th, 2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
You get the best taxi drivers.
May. 5th, 2011 05:10 pm (UTC)
This is marvellous. One can only admire the pride! The right to spoil the ballot paper is important...
May. 5th, 2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
Couldn't agree more.
May. 5th, 2011 05:15 pm (UTC)
I do have to admire him.
May. 5th, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC)
belfast taxi driver
it was proudhons, "to be governed...."

May. 5th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC)
"You know that nwhyte? I had him in the back of my cab once."

May. 5th, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC)
Obviously another conformist who's seen where the blinkered knee-jerk Guardian lock-step is headed.
May. 6th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)
There's nothing wrong with spoiling your ballot. But if you do, you don't get to brag about 'exercising your democratic right to vote', because you didn't vote.
May. 6th, 2011 09:24 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure how confident I'd feel about being taken somewhere by an anarchist taxi driver.
May. 16th, 2011 02:24 pm (UTC)
So glad to be able to report that I saw his spoilt ballot as the doubtful votes were being examined in the Kings Hall for Belfast South and West.
Jun. 5th, 2011 06:31 pm (UTC)
belfast taxi driver
anarchy peace love
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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