Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: What if We Held an Election and Nobody Came?

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  • Emma Hart, in reply to Ross Mason,

    maybe "we" can now see that plonking a sign anywhere may not be the best place for it

    Most of the procedures (particularly those for the count) are obviously precision-honed from intelligent practice. Which makes me wonder why nobody has noticed that the signage isn't working.

    The signs behind the issuing tables are at eye level, so you should see them. But when you walk up to a sitting person, your eye level drops to the level of their head. So the signs are too high up. If they were on the fronts of the tables, they'd be too low down.

    Which leads me to the unfortunate conclusion that, in order for people to see it, my "Port Hills" sign should be on my chest.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Um, yes...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Emma Hart,

    don't spook the voters...

    The signs behind the issuing tables are at eye level, so you should see them. But when you walk up to a sitting person, your eye level drops to the level of their head. So the signs are too high up. If they were on the fronts of the tables, they’d be too low down

    Where's Temple Grandin when
    ya need her?
    After all, the polling booths seem
    to have doubled as slaughterhouses,
    this time round...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4555 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    But when you walk up to a sitting person, your eye level drops to the level of their head.

    If only more people in charge of sign placement noticed that. People also look where their hands are about to go - like door handles.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16266 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    should be on my chest

    might skew voting

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16266 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Aren't we too early to be on to Emma's ... er ... Port Hills

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Tamsin6, in reply to Islander,

    The Southern Maori prounciation were first written down by an interesting character called John Boultbee, an educated sealer. Some of them have lingered – bidibid’ for piripiri- bungi (here on the Coast) for (wheki)punga. But the way the r in Maori sort of slides into d-hood has been a commonplace since people, especially English, started writing the language down…

    I still say biddy biddy like a proper Southland girl - did not realise that was the reason for it though! No longer roll my 'r's' but I do pronounce them more than is probably common in the rest of NZ.

    London • Since Dec 2007 • 123 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Aren’t we too early to be on to Emma’s … er … Port Hills

    Oh dude, it's better than being too late.

    I...yeah. I'm going to take that as a sign I should go to bed.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Islander,

    But the way the r in Maori sort of slides into d-hood has been a commonplace since people, especially English, started writing the language down…

    You do have to wonder how much Maori has been changed and/or ossified by the transition to written language. Give it another couple of centuries before that happened and you'd probably have distinct written as well as spoken dialects.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I'm going to take that as a sign

    reminds me of a guy I knew with a collection of "shoplifters will be prosecuted" signs #meta

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16266 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Islander,

    Thanks Islander for broadening my knowledge on dialect - would you go so far as to call it that? and hey sorry for my flippant assumption you were a man - I really must slow down sometimes and think !

    My knowledge of Te Reo is not great but I do notice different pronunciation in some areas and I welcome it . The way Tariana Turia says whanau as if she is stroking the word with affection. I wonder if we need more difference in pronunciation, anchoring oral language to place. That's why I like the southern pakeha rolled r's - it seems the only bit of NZ english tied to place , I guess there must be others.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 451 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    You do have to wonder how much Maori has been changed and/or ossified by the transition to written language

    Good point Lucy - and how does the process of translating an oral language into writing do that? My ancestors come from Scotland ( Hebrides) North England and London where the language has been locked into written form for a long time but the dialects of my grandparents are so distinct I don't think they could talk to each other.
    Dialect there is of course is tightly linked to social status - my half sister unlearn't Londoner and taught her self the Queens English so she could get a teaching job.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 451 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    And a written language that was created at a time of low-cost printing.

    (English didn't really get its spelling standardised until the 18th/19th century. Before then, spelling was a matter of personal and local preference).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to webweaver,

    Her technique was multi-stepped and went something like this:

    1) Very confident voice, made eye contact with voter, had the whole spiel down pat right from the get-go.

    2) Carried on doing the talk while she was writing the number on the voting paper, handing this to the voter first while folding the referendum paper (so they could see something else was coming and they should wait for it), meaning that timing-wise she was still holding onto the referendum paper by the time she got to the bit about going behind the screens.

    3) Voter stays put and looks obediently towards the screens as she points them out like an air hostess pointing out the emergency exit.

    4) Still holding onto the referendum paper but now proffering it to the voter, she finishes her spiel with the bit about the voting boxes at the same time as finally letting go of the paper, does another air-hostess point towards the boxes while they are paying attention to grabbing hold of the referendum – which means that again they look obediently towards where she’s pointing before finally shuffling off to vote with an “oh right – thanks…”

    Brilliant. Worked every time. I bet she practiced in the front of the mirror for days beforehand :)

    She most likely would have worked in retail, and probably was the star salesperson.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 639 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Just trying to get over the "Port Hills" reference, especially in combination with Sacha's

    People also look where their hands are about to go

    But...Nicky Hager has an interesting analysis of the election result.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3410 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Lilith __,

    “Port Hills”

    If it wasn't so unsubtle I'd be voting for that as Emma's next ink.

    And yes Hager's analysis is interesting. We don't quite have the minority government I'd like to see - where compromise and cooperation between parties is required for legislation to pass. But it is close. His analysis of Key's future is less compelling and feel too much like wishful thinking for me to be convinced. However, we don't need to guess the experiment is already in motion and the results will be obvious in a year or so.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Most of the procedures (particularly those for the count) are obviously precision-honed from intelligent practice. Which makes me wonder why nobody has noticed that the signage isn’t working.

    I’m sure someone has, but there comes a point where no matter where you can't make people pay attention without going all Buffalo Bill on their arse.

    “It puts THIS orange ballot in THAT orange box, and THIS referendum ballot in THAT purple box. It does this whenever its told.”

    (beat)

    “It puts THIS orange ballot in THAT orange box, and THIS referendum ballot in THAT purple box. Or else it gets the hose again.”

    (beat)

    “PUT THE FUCKING ORANGE BALLOT IN THAT BOX. NO, THAT ONE! JESUS CHRIST, I’M NOT MAKING A MORON SUIT. THERE! THERE! YES, THE OTHER ONE GOES IN THERE.”

    (beat)

    "Next?"

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    without going all Buffalo Bill on their arse.

    I think most of the problems Emma relates came from being on or close to a boundary - voting papers for one district getting stuffed in the wrong district box.

    Although I do wonder how many orange papers ended up in the purple box, and vice-versa. A lot of colourblind voters out there...

    My tendancy towards a default Buffalo Bill setting is why I’d never do well in politics. Although, thank you yes, the meds do help considerably and the headaches and blackouts are much less frequent these days.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2326 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Although I do wonder how many orange papers ended up in the purple box, and vice-versa. A lot of colourblind voters out there...

    Having a colour-blind son, I do actually worry about colour-blind voters. I mean, I assume the buff/orange/purple shades are toned so colour-blind people can tell them apart, but all of our instructions were written to include the colours.

    I should note that the guidelines for dealing with handicapped/disabled voters were intelligent and sensitive. No, actually, you don't get to touch people just because they're Deaf.

    NO, THAT ONE!

    Having children, I could spot the point at which to take a deep breath in order to avoid yelling, "Where I'm pointing! Look where I'm fucking POINTING!"

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Rich Lock,

    I think most of the problems Emma relates came from being on or close to a boundary – voting papers for one district getting stuffed in the wrong district box.

    Quite - I live in North Shore, and just inside the East Coast Bays boundary and a short drive from Northcote. I've been a scrutineer at the nearest polling place to my home, and come away with even more respect for poll workers who could resist the urge to shake some people. Hell, just being a scrutineer - with incredibly strict rules about how you conduct yourself in a polling place - was *cough* character forming. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    If it wasn’t so unsubtle I’d be voting for that as Emma’s next ink.

    Yeah, cos that's the problem. (the unsubtlety, I mean)

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Richard Aston,

    Kai Tahu dialect* has fascinated me since I was in my teens, and heard my uncle use the word ‘malaki’ -“We used to malaki fish out on the clothes line.” He would’ve heard it from his father (who was brought up speaking Kai Tahu & English.) “Maraki’ is the word for dried fish elsewhere – but it was also the process in the South.

    * It is accepted as a dialect – there are 12 Maori ones noted in Williams’ dictionary.

    And Lucy’s comment is germane – we know, from mss. in the Hocken, that people in the 1840s were still stretching te reo, playing with it, inventing new words for new concepts, and altering/increasing the meaning of hitherto established words.
    Dictionaries & grammars are wonderful tools but they can become deadening authoritays-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Hell, just being a scrutineer – with incredibly strict rules about how you conduct yourself in a polling place – was *cough* character forming. :)

    I find the “you may not speak with the voters” one particularly fun in terms of its consequences. There’s always gonna be at least one friend or acquaintance coming in to vote if you scrutineer near where you live – in my case it was three or four people during the course of the day.

    The first thing that happens is that you catch their eye – because that’s what you’re trying to do with everyone anyway, and you know this person so it would be rude not to…

    And they recognise you and go “Hi webweaver! How are you? Go the Greens!” and you smile broadly and say “I’m terribly sorry I’m not allowed to talk to you…” and they go “Wuh? Oh!!” (sudden realisation dawns)… embarrassed grin as they do the ‘zipped mouth’ sign and apologise with an “Oh yes! I won’t say another word! Oops!” and other general awkward shufflings ensue.

    After they’ve voted they catch your eye again, give you a big grin and a thumbs-up and off they go.

    The first time it happened in our polling station was very soon after we opened and a friend of one of the Labour scrutineers came in. All smiles and “hello how are you?” – expecting a response in return.

    The poor scrutineer lady (because I guess hers was the first of the day and we hadn’t quite established our non-response response protocols by that point) looked completely horrified, clamped her mouth shut, looked around wildly for assistance and/or support and finally managed to squeak out “I can’t talk to you!!!!” to her friend – who then did the whole “wuh? oh!” zipped mouth rigmarole thingymajig. Brilliant.

    *sigh* I do love people-watching. It’s fascinating.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 329 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    @Megan:
    It could be made more subtle (and usably so).
    How about, e.g. Port Hills to Another Dimension ?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 852 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to webweaver,

    *sigh* I do love people-watching. It’s fascinating.

    It does – and after the tumult and the shouting of the campaign dies away, it’s rather sweet that election day itself is conducted with a degree of seriousness that doesn’t tip over into po-faced, poker-up-arse absurdity. Only ever seen one scrutineer who was a dick, and she was quickly bailed up in a corner and given a polite but firm ear-flick. (To a discreet non-partisan fist-pump from everyone else, I must add.)

    Sorry for sounding like a broken record, but our electoral agencies do a bloody wonderful job that’s too easily taken for granted. Which is the way of the world, I guess – when you get it right, you never get any thanks. Because that’s what people do – and should – expect. But run out of ballot papers in a polling place where traffic is heavier than anticipated, and God help you!

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

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