Miles Kington: A phantom exercise in democratic choice

They can always tell which is his voting paper; the modern parties are crossed out and 'Whig' inserted
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The Independent Online

Today I am bringing you a small selection of things that happened during the election yesterday but which somehow didn't get into the news...

Today I am bringing you a small selection of things that happened during the election yesterday but which somehow didn't get into the news...

* Along with some oddly named parties like Veritas and Respect, there was another one called Apathy, formed to cater for those who really couldn't care less about the election. The original name was going to be Inertia, but they were not sure how to spell it and couldn't be bothered to look it up.

* In one polling booth, in Helmsbury, the marshals counted a total of 267 people who had voted yesterday. When they counted the ballot papers in the ballot box, they found there were 268. This was exactly what they had expected, as it always happens in this particular polling booth, because it is haunted.

The ghost in question is that of an 18th-century Member of Parliament called Sir Daniel Sedley, who discovered that his wife was having an affair with the opposing Tory candidate, and blew her brains out, then his opponent's, then his own. Ever since then he has "voted" in every election. They always know which his voting paper is, as all the modern parties are crossed out and the word "Whig" is inserted.

* In a polling station in Kelmness, one voter startled the officials by coming in dressed in combat uniform, with a balaclava helmet on his head. Having got a voting form, he crept around the wall, using every bit of cover, dashed into the booth, voted instantly and then made a rapid retreat by rolling across the floor to the door and shooting out.

Later he said: "I was voting tactically".

* Proceedings were enlivened in one polling booth in Dorset when a fox rushed in and took refuge behind the polling booth. From outside, a voice was heard to cry: "We know you're in there! We can wait!"

On examination, the official found that an entire hunt, with dogs and horses, was standing outside. The official said they were acting illegally and should go away, but was only laughed at for his pains. When he re-entered the polling station, he was bitten by the cornered fox. Afraid that he might have rabies, he rang for an ambulance and was taken away. After his departure, the hunt forcibly entered the polling station, but there was no sign of the fox. It is thought that he made his escape in the ambulance.

* Officials were startled in an Islington polling station when a young woman spent over 20 minutes in her booth, lovingly running her hands over the structure, and the ballot box, and even the pencil on the string. Eventually she was asked to leave.

She said later that she had been voting tactilely.

* The Apathy Party received no votes at all. This was not due to voter apathy so much as to the failure of the party to put up any candidates.

* When Mr Sidney Porter of Tottenham turned up to vote, dressed in women's clothes, he was told that if he had been registered as a male voter, he should dress as a man to vote.

"But what if I have come to vote for the Cross-Dressing Party?" objected Mr Porter.

"There is no cross-dressing party that I know of," said the official.

"You should get out more," said Mr Porter. "I went to a splendid one last night."

* Mr Oscar Lord of West Bromwich went to his local polling station not to vote but to sit outside holding a big sign which read "My Vote For Sale. Goes to the Highest Bidder".

The officials told him to go away, saying it was against the law to sell your vote. Mr Lord said he had been right through the rule book and there was nothing against it. The officials said they would send for the police. Mr Lord said it was a bit premature, as he had not even taken a bribe yet.

After four hours, Mr Lord agreed to leave the premises, having successfully sold his vote to the Green Party for a tofu sandwich.

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