Don’t have a ballot box? Just use a barrel!

Romanian reality definitely proves that truth really is stranger than fiction. Last Sunday, when Romanians were voting to elect their next president, a photo went viral on social media. The photo showed that in one voting district, a plastic barrel was being used as a ballot box. It turned out that the picture had not been manipulated at all; it simply displayed the naked truth.

The polling place in question was in fact a classroom located in the village school of Râmeşti, Vâlcea County, which is in southern Romania. As the ominous photo began to circulate on Facebook, it was soon revealed to the public that plastic barrels had taken on the flattering function of a ballot box not just in this one village, but in five other voting districts belonging to the municipality of Şuşani as well. This information was corroborated to media representatives by the mayor of Şuşani, Gheorge Constantinescu.

As he mentioned, the municipality had also used such barrels in the voting districts of its villages for the European Parliament elections. No one was bothered by them, as they perfectly suited the purpose. The mayor also added that in his opinion it was not irregular at all to use plastic kegs as ballot boxes, as they can be sealed and rather easy to handle.

Nevertheless, the mayor is now ashamed that his municipality ended up in the national press because of this topic. The floods of comments on social media and news portals show a rather justifiable mix of amusement, astonishment, irony, and indignation. Even the Mediafax news agency stressed in the title of its news coverage that these kinds of kegs are used for pickling cabbage (such barrels are commonly used in Romania to pickle vegetables). Or, as some people have mentioned, these barrels are really good for storing crushed malt before distillation. Nevertheless, it seems that if the state cannot provide, resourcefulness can be limitless…

The “ballot box” is a central element in the photo, but it is worth lingering for a moment on the “old-school” look of the classroom as well, especially the “finely crafted” timber floor and the masonry of the corner furnace, not to mention the school benches; the whole atmosphere of the room takes one back in time at least three decades. So the barrel is in fact a nice, complementary part of this snapshot of the weirdest reality.


Title image: Would you believe that on the barrel it is written “Presidential Elections”? It might as well say “sour cabbage – 2019”

Author: Éva Zay