Thursday, February 21, 2013

February Election? Must Be Time for Snow

Today's snowstorm marked the biggest winter weather event in the last two years, since a February 2011 snowstorm that also occurred when an election was in full swing.

Two years ago, a huge snowstorm arrived on election day, a mail-ballot for the city of De Soto.  Mail-ballot elections end at noon on election day, and our office shut down shortly after that.

Today, a foot of snow fell between 7 and 11 a.m., the entire state literally was closed and announced the closure last night before the storm, UPS and the Postal Service aren't delivering, and here we are, waiting for our published public test of equipment to begin at 2 p.m. 

Our office also is open for advance voting, with no voters thus far, but we'll lock up for the day after the public test.

In both of these February blizzards, the county's offices opened, then closed, effectively endangering employees unneccessarily.  The county has the most advanced weather forecasting resources available, yet, apparently, refuses to believe them.

We determined that the advance voting schedule and the public test made some of us essential today.  I'm hardly essential but I personally have one of the easier commutes to our office.  Add that to the fact that, compared to my staff, I don't actually do any work, and the least I could do is be here.

We also wanted to be here in case today was the only day someone could vote. Kansas law requires advance voting begin in our office at least a week before the election, but there isn't any specification on the operating hours. 

However, the public test was an issue of our own making.  We learned today to add a disclaimer for future public tests to publish something along the lines of, "In case of an emergency-related building closure, the test will be the following day at the same time."

Weather like this brings up frightening thoughts about what we would have done if this were next Tuesday, election day, and we're stressing at the thought of another storm on Monday.  We'll cover that with our supervising judges during that training Saturday.

But then, in the kibitzing and planning, as we wondered if facilities will be open tomorrow to accept our polling place equipment and supplies, discussion turned to Monday.  We may need to push some Friday deliveries to Monday, particularly if no one is available to greet our deliveries tomorrow. 

It's very difficult to deliver supplies on Mondays to polling places, even though we use a large moving company, because there is simply a physical limit to the number of deliveries that can be made.  Election administration is known for it's Plan B, but we're looking at Plans C and D, considering calling in some temporary employees to help us with deliveries on Monday.

Before we could applaud our plans, though, another snowball full of "elections are hard, darn it," came flying at us.  The schools we are using in this election, because of the recent safety concerns, won't let us in Monday until 4 p.m. 

Really?  I know we are guests, but really?  Why us?  Are all deliveries and outsiders pushed to 4 p.m. or later?

Does the world not want elections?  (I remind you of my postal concerns and the fact that despite the, "Neither rain, nor snow" cliche, no mail and no ballots were delivered today).

There's an article today quoting me on Internet voting and, contrary to how it may read, I am really not pro-Internet voting.  I'm just FOR VOTING, and the forces against us are beginning to wear me down.

Or, maybe it's just today's snow.  Monday's snow could definitely be a wet (or at least cold) blanket if the forecast is real, so we'll be working on our Plans C and D this weekend.