Sunday, March 4, 2012

Stay on Target!

I'm not the first to adopt a line from "Star Wars" as a strategic mantra and not even the first to adopt, specifically, "Stay on Target!" as that theme.

But it is the constant cry I'm using for our election workers, our staff, and even me for 2012.

You'll remember that as Luke Skywalker was flying towards the Death Star to shoot a laser into the station's pea-hole-sized vulnerability, he faced enemy fire and and was coaxed by his comrades in other ships to, "Stay on target. Stay on target!"

We're not in any kind of universe-saving mission, but we are expecting to be surrounded by election noise, particularly related to photo ID laws, voting machines, and the overall publicity around the presidential election.  All of that is simply a distraction to what we need to do--administer the elections.

Particularly with Photo ID, I don't read about what's going on in other states, or what the Department of Justice may or may not do, or what anti-Photo ID legislators are saying, or, for that matter, what proponents are saying.  As I often say, we are rule followers at the election office and the rules have been established.  If the rules change, we'll change.

It's akin to when I worked in competitive intelligence at Sprint.  We spent so much time chasing the impacts of bills that were proposed and never passed, we finally realized that our Give-A-Darn Meter should only be raised when actual changes were imminent.

That being said, Photo ID wasn't much of a distraction with our Feb. 28 election.  We had one photo ID protester and another voter legitimately left his ID in his other car, but that was it.  

We got more feedback from our election workers regarding the rollout of iPads to help get voters to the correct polling place than we did from photo ID.

That is worth a pause:  this whole big ball of angst--good and bad--known as Photo ID was overshadowed in election worker mindshare by tablet computers that gave our workers a new tool to direct voters to their correct voting location.  A new solution to an old problem was bigger news to our workers than all of these new procedures.

I've heard that Photo ID was a non-event in other states and I gave those who said that the cocked-puppy-dog-head look like they were crazy.  But, it's starting to look like that's the case here.

So it was hard to get fired up to speak on Photo ID Thursday night.  I was beginning to think the event would be about as exciting as a lecture on, well, telecommunications legislation.

I was invited to a panel on Photo ID at the Mainstream Education Foundation.  There were about 75 people there and if I was wondering where the anti-Photo ID crowd was, they were well-assembled there.  I spoke, followed by a state senator, then a voting rights advocate and someone from the ACLU.

There was definite energy in the room.  This was the most engaged group I spoke to since meeting with the Political Chips a couple of years ago.  These two groups have opposite viewpoints, but it's always nice to feel the passion regardless of the point of view.

I've posted my presentation here, but it probably needs some explaining.  "Tales from the Hood" is a phrase I've used in training, where I'm asking our election workers to give us training feedback on our procedures.
Because "the hood" seemed a little intense, I changed it to "Neighborhood," and figuring they would be feeling good in the neighborhood, I thought of Kansas City company Applebee's.

Hmmm.  Maybe it would have been better without explaining.

Anyway, we need groups like this, though, to get the word out about Photo ID requirements, just like we'll need the Political Chips.  

Our approach, as mentioned a bit on this blog, is to have a key connector outreach strategy.  It ties some to the book, "The Influentials," one of those books that you've almost read just by reading the title.  If one person influences nine others, we want to direct our outreach to those who can reach large numbers.

You'll also see our outreach vehicles (literally).  And, I'll soon have an update on our training video for our election workers, another group of influentials.