From the trenches: why Election Day is a NIGHTMARE for anyone with kids.

Alissa Warren.



I have the perfect policy that will ensure almost every single vote.

Yep. Rudd, Abbott, listen up.

It’s called ‘Vote to You’. You knock on my front door with a sheet of paper and a pen and I’ll vote for you.

That’ll just about get me over the line.

Because already – with a whopping four weeks before the election – I’m already having Voting Anxiety. Not about who I’ll vote for. That’s worthy of a far less serious debate. But about how I’ll actually vote. Literally. Because every election – council, state, federal – I go through the same moves about as awkwardly as Kevin Rudd swoops his right part with his left hand.

The Night Before:

“Don’t forget to vote tomorrow.” Ugh. I feel the same way about this statement as I do about these … “Have you done your tax?” and “Can you clean the filter in the dishwasher?” Has to be done. Like getting new tyres for your car. But when it comes to voting, my body actually physically protests. I hunch my back, flop my arms around my knees and throw my head back like a three year-old. “Tomorrow?” How has this happened so soon? I spend weeks living election coverage. My friends discuss Joe Hockey’s lap-band surgery, my Dad regurgitates talkback radio and my political-junkie husband stews over every uber-second of possible election coverage. And then all of a sudden – boom! – like Kevin Rudd pouncing Julia Gillard (or vice-versa), I’m panicking about how I’m going to manage the morning. And then I’m there …



Some scout hall or school gym has become the victim of angry voters. And their cars. But these sites are no strangers to maniac drivers. They are peppered with enough No Standing, No Parking, 5 Minute Zone, Kiss and Collect and Loading Zone signs to rival a footy stadium. I will inevitably park five blocks away.


I spend years trying to fool myself and everyone around me that I’m a patient, encouraging and calm mother. On voting day, the truth sets me free. In a bad way. I’m a bogan parent. I yell at my kids from the moment they step out of the car. “Get off the road”, “Stop at the corner”, “No, you can’t have a Mr Whippy”, “The toilets are closed,”, “No, you can’t wee on that tree”.

The Flyers:

Enough. Stop. A greasy smile on a piece of stinky paper isn’t going to sway me. Neither will the pushy giver-outerers. Especially the Greens. Isn’t it terribly ironic that they thrust glossy unenvironmentally friendly flyers at voters? Maybe they should do paper flyers with the little seeds embedded in them that you can plant in the backyard afterwards?

Oh, hey there, everyone I’ve ever met.

The Awkward Reunion:

This is the worst bit. The bit when you look around. For just one, itty-bitty second. And then it happens. You catch his eye. The eye of the guy you went to primary school with who is now the “principal at the local real estate agency” who is doing super-well and making heaps of money even thought he’s wearing a suit from Roger David, or the guy you pashed at some backpacker bar in Bondi and half-dated for a week who now has three sons (perfectly under control and wearing mini Chino’s) and looks a little like Malcolm Turnbull. Do you pretend you didn’t see them? Too late. Always, too late.


The “Let Me Just Search for your Name” moment:

Bugger. Am I registered? Yes, I am. Maybe I’m not. The lady behind the desk scrolls her knobbly finger down the list. Nope. Turns the page. Please, find me. I’ve made it this far. Bingo. Found! Phew.

The Begging:

The Yelling has turned into The Begging. “Please be quiet and I’ll buy you hot chips”, “If you do a quick wee on that tree, you can have a Mr Whippy”. I’ll do ANYTHING to get through the next three minutes. Funnily enough, I sound like a politician.

Wouldn’t it be cool if you put your ballot into an indestructible black box?

The Actual Vote:

Wiped. Huh? Massive piece of paper. Need to look smart and know what I’m doing. What’s that bloke doing over there? I’m not peeking at your vote, just want to know what the hell is going on with this piece of paper that’s the size of my doona cover. Right. Now for the actual voting. There’s a No Parking Meters Party? Yes, please! Focus. Vote. Scrunch into box.

The round-up:

Collect chocolate-faced kids. Say goodbye to super-organised, random person you’ll never see again.

A million dollars later, I’ve bought three Mr. Whippy’s. I’ll end up buying two chickens on the way home, a bag of chips and some orange fizzy drink about the fruits of the sun. Someone say something about GST?

But it’s over. Until the next election…

Alissa Warren began her career at Radio 2UE and has worked as a reporter for ‘A Current Affair’ and Sydney’s Nine News. Recently, Alissa has written for various publications including News Ltd and Fairfax and appears as a regular panelist on various news programs. You can follow her on Twitter here.