Tuesday, 6 October 2015

A Conversation with an Angry ARO

At GE 2015, there were over 800 polling stations, each of which was headed by an Assistant Returning Officer (ARO).

The AROs were appointed on Aug 28, 2015. Here is the list of them.

SG2B speaks to an Angry ARO, who wish to remain anonymous so that he can be more colourful in his language. You have been warned.



SG2B: So Why are you angry?

Angry ARO: Because I have to WORK on a fucking Public Holiday, in a non-air-conditioned environment! And do you know what is my working hours like? I have to report to the centre at 5 AM! Five! Fucking! AM! And that is if the supervisor of the centre doesn't go "Army Time" on us! - 'OK. The bus leaves at 6, so the POs [Presiding Officers] have to be there at 5, so the SPOs [Senior Presiding Officer] better come at 4, then the AROs have to be here at 3 AM. Okay lah, 3.30. Dun say we heartless.' Fucking stooopid!

And then, after polling is closed and my SPO and POs can go home, I HAVE TO CONTINUE WITH THE COUNTING!

SG2B: You have to count the ballots?

ARO: Not personally, lah, you idiot! I have counting assistants for that! To count up to about 4000 votes depending on the polling station.

SG2B: How long does that take?

ARO: It doesn't matter how long it takes. We can't go home until the last polling station is counted, All the votes tallied and reported, and the results declared. Then we can close the Counting Centre and the counting is done.

SG2B: Then you can go home?

ARO: Fuck No! Then we have to escort the ballots in the depository box to the Supreme Court. In a bus. With Police Officers on board for our "protection."

SG2B: That sounds cool.

ARO: Cool your fucking head ah! Because the police are on board, the fucking bus drivers all suddenly become kwai-kwai drive within the speed limit even though the ROADS ARE CLEAR! If you ever take the last bus at night and the roads are clear, you know our bus drivers become Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari. But because of police presence, what would normally take the driver maybe less than 15 minutes, now takes more than 30 minutes to get to the Supreme Court... And then, we hit the queue.

SG2B: What queue?

ARO: The queue of buses from OTHER counting centres lah! About 100 or more buses trying to drop off AROs and other Election Officials at the Supreme Court to deposit the boxes of counted ballots.

SG2B: And how long does that take?

ARO: Depends on your fucking luck. If your bus extra slow, or your counting extra long (because of recount), you reach the Supreme Court late and end up at the back of the queue of AROs, it could take a while. If you are at the front of the queue, you may be out a little earlier. If you are at the end, maybe 3 - 4 AM. I heard Aljunied had a recount and the AROs there didn't finish until about 4 AM.

SG2B: So if you have to report for election duties by 5 AM, and you don't get back till 4 AM. So you would be awake for 24 hours!

ARO: EXACTLY! This is horrendous working hours!

SG2B: But you have some perks right?

ARO: Like what?

SG2B: Don't you get the results earlier, before it is announced?

ARO: Why the fuck would we? Who the fuck are we to get this consideration? We had to check our smartphones that night to get the results!

SG2B: But other than the long hours, the work's not too bad right?

ARO: Yeah. But I'm getting too old for this! If I were younger, staying up late, staying up for 24 hours, no problem. Now I need my afternoon nap, I need frequent toilet breaks because of my diabetes, not to mention hypoglycaemia/hunger from skipping or delaying meals.

SG2B: What about the questionable ballots? I hear you have to decide on those ballots, and so if the ballot paper have a tick instead of an "X" is it still valid?

ARO: Look. The whole point of voting is to tell us who you want to vote for. And the correct way is to put an "X" in the box.

SG2B: But I heard from other AROs that they will also accept tick, circle, smiley face, hearts, etc. What are acceptable markings?

ARO: Just put a fucking "X" in the box! What is so fucking difficult about that? Why must put tick lah, circle lah, smiley face, hearts etc? It is NOT A FUCKING ART CLASS! Just put a fucking "X"! One person one vote. Circles count as one. ticks also count as one vote. You think you draw a perfect circle you get more votes issit?

SG2B: So if a voter mark something other than an "X" what happens?

ARO: Well, the ARO will look at the stupid non"X" marking, curse the voter and hope the voter's entire family hum kar chan, and if the marking is ambiguous and is prone to multiple interpretation, or is uninterpretable, reject the vote as a spoiled vote cast by a retard who don't know how to follow instructions to mark an "X", and who was obviously placed on this earth to make the ARO's life hell, and toss the vote in the reject pile.

So if you want your vote to count, PUT A FUCKING "X" IN THE BOX!

SG2B: So anything other than an "X" would be rejected?

ARO: Let me just say this to those people who are fucking around with the ballot paper: Are you fucking stupid? Put an "X" in the box for the party or candidate you want to vote for. If you put anything else, the fucking ARO have to decide if it is a valid vote, and his decision is final. If he decides it is invalid, it is invalid. So you want to vote or you want to test the ARO who has been awake at an ungodly hour, been working in the heat, humidity, and now because of the fucking Indonesians, in the haze, have not had a proper toilet break, has not had a proper meal, has been on his feet for 16 hours, urgently needs to go to the toilet, and is now facing a ballot paper with a kindergarten drawing of a smiley face drawn by a retard who thinks it must be funny to fuck with a tired, hungry, irritable, incontinent ARO. You want to trust that the ARO is going to rule in your favour? Are you fucking mental? Do you have some SERIOUS issues that prevents you from marking an "X" in the box?

SG2B: Okay. why do you think some people mark other than an "X" in the box.

ARO: Because they are trying to fuck with me. Let me say this to them: If you are NOT going to take your vote seriously, why the fuck should I?




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