Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hurry Up and Wait, Then Wait and Hurry Up

The election story of the year in Kansas is redistricting.

Of course, there are election stories regarding candidates and issues, but that's not the focus here.  There are candidate impacts from redistricting, though, and, in particular, potential candidates sitting on the sidelines trying to determine if this is the year they should run.

A principled candidate may want to run if he or she feels a void of those principles exist in leadership of a particular district.  But that same potential candidate may not want to run if there is another candidate already running who shares his or her values.

If candidates are on the sidelines at this late date for an August 7 election, voters will have little time to be captivated.  Military ballots need to be mailed in three weeks and advance voting starts about a month later.

The August election, usually with a turnout of about a third of the November presidential election, is looking like it will have a stark turnout.

Yesterday was the filing deadline for candidates except for those races impacted by redistricting, currently in the hands of a federal court.

We had our usual flurry of filings until the noon deadline and then a few precinct committee filers who thought the deadline was 5 p.m., only to have those filings rejected.

Our office had been madly proofing candidate names and pushing to get information updated on our website.  Usually at this point we would begin creating the election in our election management system, build the races, set the rotation (candidate names in many races have to be rotated by law so each candidate gets equal time at the top of the ballot), and create the ballots.

But this filing deadline was only Part A.  The second act is scheduled for June 11.  That's assuming the federal court is able to resolve the redistricting next week.

Drawing of boundary maps is not easy and although the court has plenty of people offering help in the forms of maps drawn, the court is trying to do something in two weeks that the legislature couldn't do in more than two months (really, five months, but I wanted to use "two" twice there).

Drawing the boundaries is complicated by the need to have comparable numbers of voters in each district (the deviation in the four U.S. congressional boundaries has to be incredibly low, less than 10 voters).  Even if there were no political factors at play, this is not an easy task.

There's still the potential of two elections in August, still the unresolved issue of whether or not the voter registration system can have the same voter in two elections at the same time, and the major issue that we don't have polling places or election workers secured for the second floating potential election day.

We have buttoned down advance voting sites for August and November and we could try to turn those sites into mega-polling places for August's second election day, if that happened.  It would be the vote center concept mentioned on the site before.

Such an idea may be pure genius or crazy talk (or both) but we plan to hash through the drivers and restrainers of such a focus early next week.  I will create a post related to that if it looks like maps won't be approved next week.