Like most archetypal Saturday mornings, the 18th May began with its usual scone fueled, first-day-of-the-weekend table centered banter and excitement. Unlike other ordinary Saturdays however, the conclusion of its natural twenty-four-hour cycle – based on statistics collected by a number of polling companies – was expected to bring with it a change of government: a new leader of our great, sun-burnt land.
Voting is compulsory in Australia – a non-trivial fine being issued to those failing to cast a ballot – and can be achieved in one of three ways: postal voting by mail; pre polling (up to three weeks early) at an official booth; and on Election Day itself. Although the majority of Aussies still come out in droves on the nominated Saturday, over the last twelve years (five elections) the popularity of pre polling has rapidly increased. This election, over 4 million (of the 16.4 million voters) people opted for this method of ballot lodgement. By the early 2020s, the percentage of citizens choosing to pre poll is expected to increase to more than 50% of the voting populous. While formal reasons for the rise in early voting popularity are yet to be examined – this data is not collected at pre-polling booths – anecdotally it would seem that convenience (casually walking past a pre polling booth) and reduced queue times feature highly in voters pre match game plan. This year’s spike in early voting interest saw a number of concerned politicians make a call to the Special Minister, Alex Hawke, to mount an inquiry into early voting with particular attention being placed on the effect it has on campaigning, democratic process and AEC (Australian Electoral Commision) spending on logistics.
In addition to it’s being a chance to exercise ones democratic voting rights as an Australian citizen, Election Day is also a chance to socialise with some like minded compatriots over a sugary treat or snag. Traditionalists might even go as far as to say that it would be unconstitutional to see a polling booth bereft of a cake stall or “Democracy Sausage” sizzle. Henceforth, for many community groups and schools – lesser known parties in the pre polling debate – the decrease in election day numbers comes as an added blow to their already forlorn ledgers. For schools in particular – many of which no longer have the volunteer force to maintain active fundraising P and C (Parents and Citizens) Committees and canteens – Election Day is an easier way to rake in those much needed dolleros to pay for, in my children’s case, playground equipment, chess tutors, library supplies, breakfast clubs and the second hand uniform shop…just to name a few.
Election Day attendance still not receiving your vote of confidence? Well as a last ditch attempt to campaign for the community cause, I present to you a next-election-day teaser: my recipe for an election day cash cow, Pumpkin Dhal…or better know to the hundreds of voting citizens passing by our stall…
Pumped Kin Election Day Dhal
The first incarnation of this dish – using donated sweet potatoes – made its community debut two years ago when I was charged with leading an intimate team of volunteers to Curry Day victory. As a dish to whip up in bulk for a hungry hoard or served alongside other family curry delights, this seasonal pumpkin favourite is sure to warm the hearts and minds of even the most evangelical extremists. As for the seeds…well they can saved, stored and replanted in the spring.
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, finely diced
1 ½ tsp grnd turmeric
1 ½ tsp grnd cumin
½ medium sized pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and diced into chunks
600 ml stock
250 g split peas or red lentils
80 g of spinach leaves
1 c frozen peas
salt and pepper
Fry the onion, garlic and ginger together in a large heavy based pot until the onion is transparent. Add the spices and fry till fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the pumpkin and mix thoroughly. Add the split peas and stock and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes or until the split peas are cooked through and slightly mushy. Stir through the spinach and the peas.
Multiply the recipe by four to make a crock pot sized volume to serve to your hungry hoard of election goers. Vote 1: enjoy it dhal!