Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Redistricting: Where No News is No News

In the "It's Election Day, Somewhere," mode, I'm leaving a quick post during an unexpectedly non-hectic moment.

We haven't seen any white smoke coming from the courthouse to indicate that the three-judge panel considering new statewide districts have reached any resolution.

In fact, as I've been reading the electronic tea leaves (Twitter, mostly), it feels like nothing will be decided until next week at the earliest.  If that's the case, the Monday filing deadline will move a week back and our office's immediate focus will be the Secretary of State's Town Hall visit in Johnson County on June 14.  I'll be the overly attentive one in the front row, hoping to use that day as a chance to sync up and make sure we are like-minded in our election planning.

Particularly, we're continuing to watch the possibility of having two elections in August and the craziness that could be happening with a voter coming in to cast two separate advance ballots for two different elections at the same time.

Meanwhile, we're building the election in our systems, fully mindful that it may not all hold as revisions are made.  Typically, after the filing deadline, we'd be preparing our paper ballot order but that's a futile task at this point.

August of even years presents the most complicated ballot printing scenario.  We print enough paper ballots for advance by mail voters, anticipated provisional voters, and for persons who request paper ballots.  We expect about 75,000 voters in August and only a portion of those voters will cast paper ballots.

But with nearly 500 precincts and unique ballots for Democratic, Republican, and Unaffiliated voters, we'll have more than 1,000 ballot styles.  Then, we'll order 25 of one, 50 of another, 30 of a third, and so on.  It's a very complex process and to be prepared, we have to over-print and end up literally throwing away thousands of dollars worth of unused ballots after every election.

We're going to take a stab at printing paper ballots on demand at our advance voting sites, but we thought that was better as a 2014 initiative.  At this rate, though, we may be combining the 2012 and 2014 elections.

For now, our office is starting to feel like a Fire Station.  We're polishing and testing our equipment, washing the truck, laying out our uniforms, and waiting for the next alarm.