Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Throw Elections From the Train

If our elections were a 1920s silent movie, our April 3rd election would represent the valiant moment where we narrowly untied the beautiful girl from the railroad tracks and saved her from an oncoming train.

That was, remember, our fifth election of the year.

So, whew, the girl is saved!  Yay, us!

Oh, there's an election in four months, August 7, but that's not for, well, four months from now.

That's more than a season.  The Royals could lose 100 games in that span.  Four months is a long time.

Then, instead of five elections in nine weeks, we'll have had six elections in 25 weeks.  That's a lot, but much less dramatic-sounding.

What's to worry?

This movie is starting to sound like a love story.

But this isn't a 1920s silent movie.  August is coming at us like a Hitchcock or Spielberg thriller.

As background, note that Kansas is the only state that hasn't resolved its redistricting following the census.

I just learned that yesterday.

I've made a point of not paying attention to the redistricting effort, but I feel like I've Rip-Van-Winkled it at this point.  The only state:  well, we gotta stand for something.

Last week, a bill was introduced to move the August 7 primary election to August 28 if the redistricting isn't complete soon.

That would be bad from an election administration standpoint.  We have polling places lined up for August 7, election workers committed, training sites reserved, and training scheduled.

Then, yesterday, as he said he would do nearly a year ago when he met with election commissioners and county clerks, the Secretary of State faced a date with a big "X" on his calendar indicating it was time for him to have the press conference he hoped he wouldn't have.

The purpose of the conference was to stress that the August 28 date may not be consistent with the Kansas constitution and that having the election on August 7 would be the way to go.

I remember the Secretary saying last May 5 that if we got into the third week of April without redistricting approved, he would do all he could as Secretary of State to move the process.

So, there we were:  an August 7 election or an August 28 election.  Preference given, by legal minds, to August 7.

But wait--curveball:  if August 28 isn't constitutional and August 7 isn't possible, a new option was introduced by the media as "no election."  I'm not sure how that would fly, but from everything I've read, it seems like a possibility.

So, now:  August 7, August 28, or not at all.

But wait, round 2--Johnson County government has a unique charter that requires its primaries to be conducted the first Tuesday in August.  We already have a commissioner race that requires a primary.

The new list of choices, then:  August 7 and/or August 28, or August 7 for the county but no state races.


We just saved the girl, hopped onto the next set of tracks, shared an embrace, and turned around to see this charging at us?

In pure homage to silent movies, I'm pretending I can't hear all the concerns rattling around in my mind.  In thriller mode, I'm just assuming it will all work out.

Next week, clerks and election commissioners meet in Dodge City and this will likely be topic number one.

Dodge City is rarely the theme for thrillers.  Western movies end with the good guys heading happily into the sunset.

Here's hoping for a change in genre, as well as the obvious hope to be validated--that election administrators are, indeed, the good guys.