I’ve just been out to cast my vote, and realised I was really anxious about it. Not because I’ve been undecided, or wondering if I’m doing the right thing, or anything like that (I’m deliberately trying to keep this away from a discussion of the politics).
I mean the mechanics of actually voting. I had a sort of paranoid fear I was going to do it wrong!
Now I am someone who routinely walks into doorposts at least once or twice a day, so perhaps my fears of some kind of mishap were not entirely unfounded - but I am not noticeably disabled, either physically or cognitively, so surely I should not be worrying that I might not be able to put a cross in the right place?
Has anyone else had (or still has, if you’ve not yet voted), this nagging sense of: “Oh dear, I’m sure I’ll do it wrong!”? Enough to actually feel nervous?
I know it’s good to treat it seriously, and as a valuable thing you must get right, but not to the point of feeling apprehensive, surely?
I knew that even if I realised I had made a mistake, all would not be lost - as long as I hadn’t put it in the box yet. All I’d need to do would be to approach one of the presiding officers, explain what happened, and they’d destroy the spoiled paper, and be able to issue me a new one.
So I kept telling myself, make sure you’ve read the question - just as if it were an exam (occasionally - but not in our constituency, I don’t think - you do get candidates who deliberately set out to gain from voter confusion by choosing a similar party name to someone else.)
Just mark one box, and only one. Then check and re-check, and fold it up, and make sure you put it in the right box.
I did all this - even down to asking: “Is this the right box?” (there were two, but either was OK), before depositing anything in there.
Happily, all seemed to go OK. If I somehow did still vote for the wrong person/party, I happily have no chance of ever finding out!
But is it normal to feel this anxious about the simple act of putting a cross in a box?
The ballot paper was nice and clear, it was extra large print, and there was not a huge long list of candidates. The boxes were nice and large, and widely spaced, so even a person with an unsteady hand (like many of us with MS) shouldn’t struggle to hit the target. And the staff couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful, so I’m sure, if I’d had any difficulty whatsoever, they’d have been happy to assist me (short of actually marking the paper for me, which they’re not allowed, but they could certainly issue a replacement if I messed up).
So why did I have this anxiety about: “I’m going to do it wrong, aren’t I?”.
I find if I even have to send a birthday card now, I usually buy two, to allow for one messed up.
I suppose this is just one of the joys of living with MS - worrying that I might not be able to put a cross in a box.
Mind you, this time five years ago, I was very new to MS, and was only a “probable”, not confirmed. I struggled to walk to the polling station, and had no idea if I’d still be walking it again in five years, or even still be alive, as the only high profile case of MS I’d ever heard of was Jacqueline du Pré - and we all know what happened to her.
So I’m pleased to report I not only got to the polling station and marked the box, but walked around the park (about one mile - the polling station happens to be in the park) - and then to the chip shop. So things have certainly not been as bad as they looked as if they might be, five years ago. But I still worry about mistakes with simple tasks.