During lunchtime my senior year of high school there was a table set up outside our cafeteria by the state government. It was a friendly reminder for the brand new eighteen year olds to register for the draft and to vote. Pretty smart idea, because I doubt I would have registered to vote anywhere else at that point in my life.
I filled out the form and absentmindedly checked the box that said "Would you consider being an election judge?" I didn't even know what it meant at the time.
I became an assistant judge for the 2004 primary elections, and at eighteen years old was the youngest judge in the room by forty years. The job was simple, I had a giant paper book filled with names and had to check off people as they went to vote. The other retirees I worked with didn't seem to take me seriously, and I didn't care - it was just an easy paycheck. But then the new touchscreen voting machines needed to be fixed and I was able to help. By the general elections all the little old ladies were telling me next year I needed to apply to be a Chief Judge. Seemed easy enough, same work I'd been roped into that year but with a better paycheck and fancier title.
So from '06-'12, I have been a Chief Election Judge. And I am still the youngest in the room, albeit by a tiny bit less now. Tomorrow marks my tenth election day and I'm looking forward to seeing my usual team at our prep meeting tonight. I'm preparing for a fairly horrific election day, reminiscent of the 2008 election dramatics - but I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised.
That was a fairly long-winded introduction to what I really wanted to say which is - Get involved! It is easy to distance yourself from the way your government works, or complain when it doesn't. If you are truly interested in seeing how the election works and how your community feels, then become an election judge. It is absolutely worth it.