Saturday, January 21, 2012

Was Monday MLK Day or Labor Day?

We've had an active election every day in my seven years at the Johnson County Election Office.

That means that as we've come in to work each day, there has been an election in the works, one we specifically are working on, as opposed to just knowing we've got one down the road.  Part of that is because elections go on for a couple of weeks after election day as we process provisional ballots and do post-election audits.

Coincidentally, Doug Chapin just posted about that yesterday: "When is an Election Over?"

For those who have been at the office longer than me, that streak goes back to 2003, so nine years with an active election.  It's the reason why, although I'm the 5th most tenured out of the eight election commissioners the county has had, I will have administered more elections than any other commissioner after our February elections.

Right now, we're working on elections 41, 42, 43, and 44 in my time, and I've been here seven years and one week.  My predecessor, Connie Schmidt, was the previous "champ" with 43 in nine years.

Yesterday, a member of our staff came in to my office today and said, "I don't know what it is, I just can't seem to get focused right now."  I told her we were all feeling that way, that it just seems busier than normal for January.  (January is busy enough, because the spring filing deadline for candidates is next week).

Reality is, we ARE busier than normal.  We've never had four elections in a 5-week period before.  The two mail-ballot elections we have cross county lines and we're the "home" county, so that adds to the prism of complexity.

Oh, and looking at the tags of my posts, I'm surprised that the most common tag is the post office, but postage changes will add to our zaniness.

Jurisdictions pay for the actual costs of administering the elections.  Midway through these mail-ballots, this weekend, we have a postage rate increase.  In mail-ballot elections, voters return the ballots postage-paid.  In tracking the costs now, we'll have some returned at one rate and others returned at a different rate.

We also mail postcards out to voters to let them know of an upcoming election.  We just got our cards printed for the small election in Roeland Park and planned to mail them next week, but we rushed Friday afternoon to the post office to beat the price increase.

It saved the city $9, to which you might say, "Eh?"  And, if this truly was Labor Day week and not Martin Luther King Day week, our stepped-up workload might have led us to the same thought.

But just guessing at the city's sales tax rate, it would take about $300 in sales at Walmart to generate $9, so $9 is at least a little more significant than it sounds.