I voted in the AV referendum. I voted YES, a tiny little cross, a mote of dust in the spokes of the titanic opposition campaign, ultimately meaning nothing.
How I voted is almost immaterial. I do not care particularly for AV; it represents, perhaps, a minor improvement on the current system. NO will almost certainly win.
The thing is, I really love voting.
My first election was a London Mayoral one. As a contrarian teenager, I voted for George Galloway because everyone seemed to think he was a cunt. How I voted was almost irrelevant. Ever since I was a child I had wanted to vote.
It started with Mary Poppins. The mother of the children is a Suffragette. I remember watching, and my mother explained to me the story of those brave women who campaigned, took direct action and died so that women could vote.
That summer, my mother took me to the polling station, and I watched her vote for Vincent Cable. How she voted was irrelevant.
I loved the smell and the ritual of the polling station. I still do.
I feel a prickle of excitement when my polling card arrives. I read it, and research the candidates I will be voting for. Often, I choose wrong. I participate, nonetheless.
My polling station is a church. As I prepare to enter, a flash of concern that I may start fizzing and be labelled a witch always passes through my head. It has never happened so far.
My polling station is always empty. Today was an exception; as I entered, someone was leaving. The person who handed me my ballot paper told me it was a better turn out than usual.
As I grip the pencil, I read my ballot paper one more time, to make sure I am voting for what I had decided. Today, I read the question several times, just to be sure the government had not decided to change the question so I would be voting yes to the status quo.
The process takes less than two minutes, and yet it feels so big to me. I feel the powerful sense of history, of solidarity with my Suffragette foremothers.
Inhabiting the system that we do, voting is the only expression of opinion we are granted by the state which will certainly not result in arrest or a beating from the police. This is wrong, of course, but I feel the meaning and the history of my action so strongly that for those two minutes in the polling station I do not think of how fucked we are.
I wish my vote meant more in terms of change. The perceived significance of the act is so much larger than its actual significance.
Knowing all of this, I vote anyway. It is irrelevant, but it feels glorious.