Sunday, July 15, 2012

Perfectly Busy

In every corner of our building, and in every corner of every corner, things are bustling.

Our office is a bit like a hotel--not just because it seems like we are spending a lot of nights there, but also because we are constantly re-purposing the space we have.  We're essentially turning our ballroom into separate meeting rooms and a gathering space into a private event area this week.

In fact, our parking lot is the first space with multiple uses.  It will be more than maxed out with spaces tomorrow while we begin election worker training, so around noon our staff will methodically double, triple and quadruple park near the dock area so all of our new election workers can find a space when coming for training. We have some classes scheduled this week and need to complete all new election worker training before advance voting in person begins next Tuesday.

We're wrapping up a video for new election
workers and supervising judges that sums up
key things related to handling exceptions.  I will post it
when it is finalized.
We'll also be training our advance voting staff this week and we'll have refresher training for about 900 workers the next two weekends at a nearby church.  Our supervising judge training will be in yet another building the weekend before the election.

This afternoon, I prepared our training room, getting all of our audio-visual connections and gadgets operable, or nearly operable.

As posted here, we've had two power surges/events in our building in 2012 and I was chagrined to find today that our new speaker setup, urgently purchased this spring to replace the speaker system that blew this winter, was a casualty of the latest surge.

My backup speaker isn't loud enough with the microphone we're using, so we're on to a backup-backup idea for Monday while we assess options. The speaker and microphone setup is necessary because our makeshift training room doesn't have a ceiling and sits in the middle of our warehouse.

Tomorrow, we'll be sending out equipment to one of our advance voting sites, continuing to test voting machines, loading up ballot carts, and preparing polling place supplies.  The warehouse will be quite noisy.

Our training room has come into the 21st century, at least, over the last few years. Training is so important, yet when I arrived in 2005, our room consisted literally of chairs and a whiteboard. We did have a great set-up called "The Perfect Polling Place" and we continue to use that in our training.

Our training room is getting
more and more professional, with
more capabilities.   It has everything
but a ceiling (below).
A big step-up for us, of all things, were tables in the training room to make it more like a classroom.

We began utilizing a big-screen television in 2008 and installed two more in 2009.  We have the ability to now stream video to these televisions and be able to walk through screen shots that the workers might encounter, although we are our own A/V staff and it takes us this time before each election to get reacquainted with all the workings.

The training room gets converted into a check-out area for supervising judge equipment the day before the election and then becomes a room where we begin our work on provisional ballots the day after the election.

The Perfect Polling place will be scrunched rather imperfectly against a wall to allow for the return of equipment after the election.

Our Perfect Polling Place
helps workers connect the dots.
The equipment going out to each advance voting sites is the equivalent of mini-offices, with chairs, tables, and break supplies, as well as laptop computers to check in voters and prepare voter cards, voting machines, and carts and carts and carts of paper ballots.  In an August election, we have about 2,000 variations of our ballots.

The laptops have to be specially loaded to work with our election system, so preparing them has been a month-long ordeal.

A row of equipment
and supplies staged for
The Great Mall, a new
site this year.
We're also preparing ballots to be mailed on Wednesday (and as of Friday at 5, we'd entered 7,895, so I think my swag of 8,000 that I used here last week was pretty good).

Also, we are in the process of organizing our secure file room with each ballot for mailings during the remaining time.

This is one of those times that I'm hoping to capture with this blog to help answer what we do on days when we don't have elections.  Hopefully, this gives you a flavor.  We'll have more this week.

Boxes are ready to
store the many variations
of our ballots.


Connie Schmidt said...

You just reminded me why I have brought back vivid memories. I am also grateful that you are taking the time to write about all of it. Our office was always out of sight...out of mind to everyone else in the county. The A Team staff there always made it look so easy that it was always difficult to convince anyone that the Team needed more space, more people, etc. when the elections ran so smoothly. As in elections nationwide, attention to needs only comes after an election meltdown. Not the best way to operate, but election offices nationwide continue to strive for perfection on a bare bones budget. Keep up the good work, Johnson County!!

Election Diary said...

Connie, there's a lot of you here, of course. Perfect election, perfect voters (everything but perfect storm in fact) makes me think of the culture you created that we are trying to maintain.

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