After attaining the age of majority, I sat out my first election of 1984. It was a general election and candidate Swanston was unopposed. I voted, therefore, for the first time in the local election of 1987. I trembled. I was so afraid of spoiling my ballot even though I had good penmanship, I still trembled and my hands sweated.
When the next election is called, that is the NIA, there will be many persons who, like me in 1987, will be eligible to vote for the first time. It will help therefore to know your ballot and how to use it and what to do if you mess it up.
First, chose the candidate you wish to vote for, know all his/her names and the symbol. I have seen elections in which the candidates campaign in one name but appear on the ballot under another name, and totally confuse the voters. Both candidates lost.
State your name for the Presiding Officer and the Agents of the candidates to hear. Present your hands/fingers for inspection by the Presiding officer who will look for tell-tale marks of whether you have already voted. Once satisfied, the Officer will issue you with a ballot and give instructions as to how to vote, never as to who to vote for.
Second, study the ballot. Take as long as you need. Do not be rushed. My experience is that it takes 2 minutes between approaching the Presiding Officer and returning the completed ballot to him/her.
Third, make your mark, X, using the PENCIL provided, in the appropriate box, that is, the one next to the name or symbol of your chosen candidate. Try not to let your mark touch the edges of the box, and do not cross those lines. If they CROSS the edge between the candidates, you can report your ballot as being spoilt and ask for the issuance of another. The Presiding officer will put your spoilt allot in a special envelope and issue another one. Your mark is secret and may not be made out in the open. Do not sign your name on the ballot!
Fourth, fold the ballot as instructed and return it to the Presiding Officer. He will detach the counterfoil and ask you to dip your finger in the ink. Here is where it becomes controversial as some voters want to put the ballot in the box themselves. However it is done, you will not be allowed to place the ballot in the box until you have dipped your finger in the ink.
That is Adult Suffrage. Simple. Powerful! Fought for! Worth defending.
One man, one vote in the right place and fairness for all!