Voting today was easier than I’ve ever experienced.
Part of the reason may be that coronavirus fears are keeping people away from the polls. Another reason was probably because we had the least complicated ballot possible, so no one had to linger while making a choice. Once I marked my spot for a candidate for president (in my case, Bernie Sanders), I was done, as there were no other races or issues to vote on.
I also doubt a lot of Republicans bothered to vote in this primary, since they know Trump is going to be their party’s candidate in November. Are there really any GOPers who are going to the effort of driving to the polling station to fill in a box for any of the others on the ballot — Bill Weld, Joe Walsh, Bob Ely, and Matthew John Matern?
Meanwhile, on the Democrat side, there were 24 names on the ballot, including Sanders and Biden, for whom today will be a bellwether. Then there are the other well-knowns who have already dropped out, but whose names remain on the ballot (Klobuchar, Booker, Steyer, Warren, Buttigieg, Yang, and Bloomberg). Next come those you long ago forgot were running (Bennet, Delaney, Gabbard, Castro, and Williamson).
And there’s the final category — the people you’ve never heard of. These are the ones that baffle me because they have no chance. I won’t even bother mentioning their names, just to deny them free publicity, but here’s a sampling of who you could have chosen today. There’s a husband and wife who are each running — not as a team, but separately. There’s a well-known local guy who I think has put himself up for every local, statewide, and national election in this area for the last couple of decades. Several others are similarly perennial candidates (and losers), including one who worked on campaigns for various Republicans and was once the nominee of the Right To Life Party — what’s he doing on the Democrat slate?
All of them are proof that anyone in America can run for the presidency. All you need is the filing fee, although you’d get the same value for your money if you just lit it on fire. But I wonder if they spent another cent on lawn signs, mailers, or even hiring a campaign staff. Do they get off on seeing their name on the ballot when they vote? Have they ever convinced another human being not related to them to check their box? Have they ever looked themselves in the mirror and thought, “I’m gonna win this time”?
Oh, there was one more option on today’s ballot: Uncommitted. That must be the candidate for people who just can’t see themselves in a long-term relationship, but are still willing to make the trip to their local polling place and vote for no one.
After voting, I encountered a woman in the parking lot handing out campaign flyers for herself. She was not running for president. She’s up for city council in the municipal election — which we won’t have until next month. What? Another election day no one knows about? As I wrote five years ago, why can’t that be on the same day as the primary? Better yet, why can’t that be on the same day as the general election in November? Considering that turnout for local-only elections is often in the double digits, why not consolidate? It would save money, time, and effort. Plus, think of all the extra filing fees you’d collect from the losers of the primary who feel mandated to run for something else!
One last note. Noticing only two other people in the voting queue, I asked an election worker how turnout had been so far. She replied she wasn’t allowed to tell me but, as she pointed to the screen on the ballot scanner, I could see for myself. It told me that 386 people had cast votes — but that’s a useless piece of information without context (i.e. how many usually vote here on a primary day?). Moreover, why can’t she tell me? Is turnout a secret for some reason?
Why do I get the feeling that Vladimir Putin has access to this information, but American citizens don’t?