Dr No has received many queries from baffled GPs stumped by how to vote in the RCGP President and Council elections. Problems have ranged from not knowing how to open the voting papers envelope, through not having the foggiest notion about how the single tranfserable vote works, to logging accidentally onto Facebook and sharing one’s voting preferences there, rather than on the secure voting website. Dr No understands voting can be difficult and stressful, and so he takes this opportunity to share with you this walk through on how to vote safely and effectively.
1. First, make sure you are sitting comfortably at a table or desk, with the unopened voting papers envelope placed in front of you. It is advisable to wear loose-fitting clothing, in case the excitement of participating in the election proves too much for you.
2. Study the envelope carefully. You will see that on one side it shows your name and address. Confirm it is indeed your name and address, and then turn the envelope over. Towards one edge you will see a flap. This is where you will open the envelope.
3. Study the flap carefully. You will note that it appears to be stuck down. This is how it is meant to be. You now have two choices: you can either open the envelope with your fingers, or alternatively use a knife. Both methods are not without risk: the digital approach can lead to lacerations on the sharp edges of paper, while using a knife can lead to deep and nasty wounds.
4. Dr No recommends the digital approach, as it is safer. Examine the ends of the flap, and attempt to slide a finger gently into any visible opening. Approach this as you would a rectal examination, gently feeling your way. Resist all temptation to ram your finger in hard! That’s how injuries occur; and we don’t want any of that sort of thing, do we?
5. Once you have got about half your finger into the opening, gently pull the finger towards the edge of the envelope. Increase the pressure until the envelope paper starts to give and then tear. Whatever you do, don’t get carried away! Instead, very gently slide your finger further into the opening, and extend the tear. Continue gently and steadily in this manner, until you reach the end of flap sealed edge.
6. Look inside the envelope you have opened. Your should see several papers inside. You need to extract those papers in order to be able to vote, so gently pull them out now. Lay the papers individually in front of you, where you can see them. If you need reading glasses, make sure you are wearing them. Make sure the papers are the right way up, so you can read the writing on them.
7. The most important paper is the pink one headed ‘Ballot Paper’. On one side, it gives details of how to vote; on the other it has, at the top, your very own secret voting codes. Whatever you do, do not tweet those codes, or share them on Facebook! Below the codes, you will see two tables with lists of names. These are the lists of candidates!
8. If you are like Dr No, you may have heard of perhaps a few of the candidates’ names, but you will have no idea what they are standing for. This can make voting difficult. So too can understanding the single transferable voting system used in the ballot. Dr No has certainly never managed to get his head round that one.
9. You must now decide whether to submit your vote online, or by post. Dr No recommends you vote by post, since that removes the risk of accidentally sharing your secret voting codes or votes themselves on twitter or Facebook. If you must vote online, make sure you are logged out of your twitter and Facebook accounts, and close all but the browser window you are using to access the voting page, to minimise the risk of accidentally sharing anything.
10. Now comes the exciting bit – voting! You are participating in democracy! Great voter turnout ensures true democracy and representation! Isn’t it just so exciting!
11. Remember you must NOT mark the ballot – whether on paper or online – with a black cross. Doing that earns you a BLACK MARK! Instead, you must use numbers. REMEMBER NUMBERS!
12. Since you, like Dr No, probably haven’t got a clue what candidates stand for, or how the numbers you cast will be used in the ballot, Dr No recommends you use a numerology style approach to decide which number to put where. Start with the presidential election. There are six candidates, so you have numbers one to six available.
13. Try to match each number in some meaningful way with each candidates name. You might, for example, think that a double barrelled name suggests the number two, and so put ‘2’ against that name. Carry on matching numbers to names, until you have used up all the numbers from one to six, and filled in all the boxes. Again REMEMBER NUMBERS! NO BLACK CROSSES! Instead, NUMERO UNO etc!
14. Now repeat the process using numbers one to ten for the ten council member candidates, again using a numerology style approach. If one of the candidates had a name beginning with Z, you might think that suggests they should come last, so put ‘10’ against their name. Carry on matching numbers to names, until you have used up all the numbers from one to ten, and filled in all the boxes. Again REMEMBER NUMBERS! NO BLACK CROSSES! Instead, NUMERO UNO etc!
15. You have now VOTED! How exciting! Either put your ballot paper in the supplied envelope, and don’t forget to post it, or log out of the voting website. Then share with your GP friends you have VOTED, and they too need to vote! Great voter turnout ensures true democracy and representation! Just make sure you share with them: REMEMBER NUMBERS! NO BLACK CROSSES! Instead, NUMERO UNO etc!