Friday, February 22, 2013

Contingencies for Contingencies

If you know me, you know I'm about as much of a newshound as there can be.

This job feeds that information-gathering need into a frenzy.

For instance, by law, election officials must read the obituaries and use that listing as one of our tools to groom the registration list.

In Kansas City, the obituaries are usually on the page before the letters to the editor, which I scan each morning to see if a) there are any concerning us, b) there are any written by election workers, and c) any written by election workers that are political. 

Then, I track the weather, starting with long-range forecast on the last page of the paper.  With so many elections, we're always looking ahead at weather, as we prepare for the start of advance voting, a training date, or election day.

We're eyeballing Monday's forecast as the city is digging out of a major snowstorm from yesterday.  Monday's storm has the potential to be a repeat, making the oft-asked question yesterday, "What would you have done if this was election day," much more relevant.

Election administrators are nothing if not over-functioning.  We already have a Monday contingency plan, which includes our plans for dealing with delivery delays from today, and we have a contingency plan for that contingency plan. 

We're now planning Contingency Scenario 3 for Tuesday morning.  It's a bit too early to develop a follow-up contingency plan for Tuesday evening yet, but we've thought about it.

The paradox of this planning is that the one thing that plays in our favor when planning this election is that few people will vote.  We can expect fewer than 5,000 voters, total, in this election and that makes paper ballots a much more viable fallback option than when 300,000 vote.

We have supervising judge training tomorrow and we'll be conducting it more as an episode of "Survivor."  We'll start with the likelihood that we'll have weather mayhem. 

I'm not sure if there is an opposite of a rain-dance, but we could probably use that.  We'd be ecstatic if we never have to roll out Contingency Scenario 4.