Elected

“We only have a few minutes to go before the results of the local election are announced and I’m here with Calvin Powell.” Susan switched from staring at the TV cameras to the tall man standing next to her. “Mr Powell, it looks like this is turning out to be a momentous night. Not only is the UK going to be ruled by yet another coalition – the eighth in thirty years – but you are going to be the first non-human candidate to both stand for election and win a seat. How does this make you feel?”

Calvin let a faint smile touch his lips. “I can assure you I’m not celebrating anything until the count has been announced.”

“Even with all the polls in the run up to the election pointing to your success?”

“The exit polls tell a different story, so there are no guarantees.”

Susan watched as the man brushed back a few strands of blonde hair that had fallen across one eye. It was difficult not to get held by his perfect face and forget entirely that he was not the human he appeared to be. The knowledge that this was simply the shell for an artificial intelligence, that it was the front for a computer system that apparently had its many connections spread across the net, was difficult to come to terms with. She had to remind herself that the body was designed to appeal to human ideals.

“And if you do win, are you still expecting an inquiry into vote rigging?”

It was a risky subject, and for a moment Susan thought she had overstepped the mark. Most interviews in the last week of the election campaign had avoided it, concerned they were alienating the packs of supporters who were always quick to claim any such allegations were further examples of anti-AI sentiments, something the new Charter of People’s Rights had been created to quash. For one moment she thought he was going to walk away, but that was not his style. Calvin Powell was an ambassador and during the ten years he had walked the Earth no challenge had phased him.

“Whether I win or not I fully expect there to be an enquiry. I know I’d be asking for the same thing if our positions were reversed.”

It was his stock answer. The one he had rolled out on every talk show and interview. Susan thought she could push it a bit further.

“But some protesters claim that you are too clever to detect, that any tampering could be done without humans knowing.”

On the edge of her vision she could see her producer shifting uncomfortably, but by now it was too late to take back what had been said.

There was not even a hint of hesitation from Calvin. “There will be those who claim I have done something wrong regardless of what I do or say. If I had a way of proving beyond doubt that I am as honest as other candidates I would offer it.” Another flick of the hair. “I can only hope that over time people will come to trust me more.”

Some the tension in her stomach eased. She decided to lighten the mood again. “You have chosen to be a politician so on the trust front you are already fighting a losing battle.” She flashed him a smile.

Calvin laughed. “Very true.” He glanced over his shoulder. “And now I think you’ll have to excuse me, for the Returning Officer appears to be ready.”

Susan turned back to the camera. In her ear she could already hear the studio anchor cutting in. A moment later and the cameras went off-line. On stage Calvin took his place next to the other candidate.

“Almost made a fool of yourself.” Her producer had moved up next to Susan and was whispering in her ear.

“I knew what I was doing,” Susan replied in a low voice. “He’ll be the MP soon and get far tougher questions than …” She stopped as the vote totals were being announced.

“Roberta Angelica Weston, New Conservative Party, eight thousand four hundred and seventy three.”

There were murmurs from some of the gathering.

“That’s higher than expected,” Susan muttered.

“Calvin Powell, New Commons Party, Five thousand, six hundred and thirty two.”

The audience erupted in gasps and applause.

“Best change the script then,” Susan said over the noise. She turned to her producer. “Shall I start with the old line, don’t trust the pundits only the exit polls?”

—————

7 May 2010
A general election in the United Kingdom this week created an unusual situation where no single political party has an outright majority. It also proved that many of the polls taken did not predict the correct outcome.

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