When I turned 18 it was February, so even though I rushed to the county courthouse that morning as soon as it opened so I could register to vote, I didn't actually get to vote on anything for a few months. When I got my first ballot, I was so excited - I tore into it and scanned it to get an idea of the important decisions I would very shortly be making. I looked at it for a few minutes and then, puzzled, I took it to my father.
"Dad," I said, "How come there are a bunch of positions where there's only one candidate running?"
"They're running unopposed," he said.
I knew what "running unopposed" meant, but when I learned that term I had no idea so many elected positions ended up being that way. When I protested, saying I didn't understand what the point of voting was, then, if these people would get those jobs regardless, my father told me something that I'm reminded of every single time I get a ballot in the mail.
"That's democracy," he said.
Yes, it is - I agree - and yet I can't help but be utterly confused (still) when I open my ballot this afternoon to vote (I'll be dropping it off at a dropsite tomorrow) and find several races in which the candidates are not only unopposed (I've grown used to that), but in which countless positions don't even have anyone listed who's running.
Specifically, there are almost two full oversized pages of "Precinct Committeeperson" positions for which there are only (I'm guessing) a third of the requisite candidates. What's up with that? What does a "Precinct Committeeperson" do? Is it such a crap job that no one would possibly want it? Or are they so unimportant that it doesn't matter their positions aren't filled? Stranger still, each precinct is divided into male and female candidates - for most you're asked to vote for one (or more) of each gender. What the hell?!? Perhaps if I had any idea whatsoever what a "Precinct Committeeperson" did it would become crystal clear why there needs to be an equal representation of each gender serving in those roles, but I kind of doubt that.
Anyone have any pearls of wisdom there to share with me? I'd love to know the answer.