Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Return of the Blue Bear

Yesterday at noon was the spring candidate filing deadline and we're in a mad dash to prepare for the Feb. 28 primary.  

We hope to send a ballot order to our ballot printer in Washington state by Friday, getting ballots back by late next week.  That's the best-case scenario, but one we push for so we have time to sort the ballots before sending out those for advance voting 20 days before the election (the 8th would be the first day we can do that).

To develop a ballot order, we first need to determine the turnout, which usually is different precinct-by-precinct, polling place-by-polling place, year-by-year.  We have a mayoral primary in Shawnee, so we expect a higher turnout there than some of the individual council race primaries we have elsewhere.

While I make the call on turnout for planning purposes (and we want to guess high so we have plenty of paper ballots), we have an internal poll taken in our office to see who can, in true "The Price is Right" style, come closest to the actual turnout without going over.

The prize for the staff member who comes
closest to correctly forecasting turnout.
The winner gets the little Blue Bear traveling trophy.  The Blue Bear lives in the winner's office until the next election. 

Once, the Bear lived with me for a year and later with another staff member for two years.  I haven't been a Blue Bear winner in a few years, actually, and that's a good thing.

The point of this is just to get everyone engaged in the numbers of elections.  We want to build future leaders of our office who understand all aspects of our business.  Accurately understanding and predicting turnout runs akin to tracking costs.  We don't want to prepare for a 30 percent turnout if the turnout is 15 percent, or vice versa.

The Blue Bear was a registration giveaway I received at an Election Center conference in 2006.  In a couple weeks, we'll gather everyone's estimates.  For now, we've estimated 15 percent, which is high for a primary.  But that number is used for planning, and I like to plan for about a 5 percent higher turnout than I think we'll have.

One thing that's unique about the spring elections is candidate rotation, so that every candidate has, as much as possible, equal time at the top of the ballot.  I'll explain that more in the coming days.