So German federal elections were held on Sunday, 24 September 2017 — and I know, it´s already been a while, it´s old news, nobody cares. Politics is still only fun if presented as a late night joke. The results obtained by the AfD caused a national outcry, but even that begins to fade. From my perspective this lethargy after an election seems to be rather normal although I can´t understand it personally. Why, you ask? Well, I was a first-time voter. Let me share my experiences with you.
The long walk
First of all, thanks to good planning Election Day is always on a Sunday. That, too, seems to be rather normal, but in the United States it´s a Tuesday, and there is no better way to describe this phenomenon than America still being stuck in the 19th century when you had to plan around market day and Sabbath. In Germany Election day is on a Sunday and it´s the best. You don´t have to work and you have no excuses not to vote. When I went to vote in my small town together with my parents I realized it´s pretty much the equivalent to what going to church must have felt like in the good old days. On the long walk to your destination on Sunday morning you see your neighbours and your friends, all united in a sort of reverent mood. It was magical.
My town´s primary school also doubles as polling station. I hadn´t been in there for a decade and I don´t really like revisiting those childhood memories. Using a public building like this one is not only cheap and practical, it also sends some subconscious signals like: “You thought we didn´t achieve much in this term, but just look at the old auditorium with this dirty fish tank we used to have, it´s now a lounge with timelessly modern and stylishly elegant furniture. You didn´t have a lounge in your school under the last administration, did you?”
For the common good
The voting booths themselves are austerely simple. You get your ballot card and then you seclude yourself in an old box with a cheap curtain to exercise your right to vote. In my case the only thing in this box other than my slightly confused self was a simple red crayon. I really enjoy the idea that the most important tool in this democratic process was probably seized from an even more confused student just a few days before the election. “It´s for the common good, Kevin”, a teacher might have said. “Do your bit for this society and gimme that crayon!”
After I used the crayon, cast my vote and left my old school, the sentiment changed from confusion to disappointment. In the days leading up to Election Day you always heard stories how Russia influenced the US election and gave us the racist incompetent orange that calls itself Mr. President. Germany should be the next target. I don´t know why a part of me imagined a Russian mobster to stand beside the school to directly influence voters. When nobody stole my ballot card, dumped a ton of fake ones into the ballot box or even tried to bribe me to vote for a certain party, I honestly felt offended. So much ado about nothing! (Or was it?)
What conclusions can we draw from this? Voting is exciting until you actually did it for the first time. The mightiest weapon of a democrat is a stolen crayon. Electoral fraud sounds fancy, but you can´t physically fight foreign gangsters to stop it. How boring.