I make my way from Benalla to the Tatong Polling Booth, driving at the maximum speed limit as I’m running slightly late. Turn left at Tiger Hill Road, nearly there. The Liberals and Nationals, marquee erected, corflutes facing the road, take up one side of the entrance to the Tatong Hall, while Helen Haines’ Voices for Indi volunteers are setting up on the other side.
Responding to a request by a Labor friend, I find myself once again volunteering, handing out ‘how to vote cards’ for Labor.
Unpacking the basket of handouts and the corflute ‘Nadia David 1 for Indi’, I balance them on the walker I plan to sit on during the day and head towards the space next to Helen Haines’ orange themed stall. Janet, Tim and David greet me warmly, making room for me.
A marquee is soon being set up beside me. People from the community arrive, setting up a ‘democracy sausage’ sizzle, a fundraiser for new flagpoles to be erected outside the hall.
Voters arrive in clusters, often in farm utes, the latter typically greeting the National and Liberal Party volunteers by name and chatting about the price of beef, wool or milk.
Younger voters, almost without exception, wave us all away, their voting intentions already researched and stored on their smart phones.
My sister and her husband, who farm on Tiger Hill, arrive to vote, ‘We wondered if you’d be here today’. There’s time to catch up on family news.
By early afternoon most people have voted and many 'democracy sausages' consumed. I walk over to the National and Liberal party tables, welcomed by volunteers I’ve chatted to at election days over the years. There is warmth in the conversation, though with the odd political prickle here and there for me to mull over later in the day.
With no one available to replace me, my friend had said, “stay as long as you can manage, and then leave the ‘how to vote’ fliers somewhere accessible”.
However as always, I stay until it is time for the scrutineers to arrive, keen for Tatong to have the full democratic menu on display.
After all, preferences count too!