Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I Would Walk 500 Hundred Miles and I Would Walk 500 Hundred More....

Tuesday's Overland Park canvass closed that election and we're a week out from mailing ballots for a similar mail-ballot election in Olathe.

Ballots for Olathe will be delivered to the Kansas City post office a week from tonight, in voters' mailboxes as early as October 23.  Extra ballots--for voters who registered since we sent the voter file to have envelopes printed--arrived yesterday and the main load should arrive for sorting Friday.

In working with the two cities, we were able to create this buffer of a week; it wasn't really needed, but between the two cities, more than half of our county's voters will be involved this fall and all involved like the idea of shutting down one election and then cranking up the next.

For me, this little sweet spot between the two elections seemed like--why not--an opportunity for complete exhaustion.

This Saturday, I hope to run my first-ever marathon (and only marathon, based on my preparation experience, perhaps).  I'll then collapse, hopefully after the finish line, and about 48 hours later fly to the
Republic of Georgia to be an observer in that country's presidential election.

It's a crazy combination that reminds me of the phrase, "You are unique--just like everyone else."

For starters, millions of people have ran marathons.

I said this recently and got pushback on the word, "millions," so I thought I was overstating the number.  About 500,000 people finished a marathon worldwide in 2012 alone, so millions is a fair word, even if the total over the years (accounting for duplicates) is just a few million.

At least that's what our virtual staff member Dr. Wikipedia told me.

However, I can't say millions have observed elections internationally.  It has to be in the tens of thousands at least, though.  More than 300 observers will be deployed in this election alone and as readers of this blog will attest, there are a lot of elections.

Georgia's Big Race actually
is the day before the election.
I'll be working, but it's a fun
I doubt many ran a marathon on one continent and then observed a presidential election a week later on another continent, so there's that.  The week after a marathon is supposed to be a rest week, at least from running, so that's another reason this observation comes at a perfect time.

I'll be drained from the observing activities and unfamiliar with the surroundings, so I'll easily fend off the urge to run.  We're told to prepare for a 24-hour day on election day.

That sounds like a marathon.  I'm a lightweight, I guess.  The longest election day "day" I've sustained is 19 hours.

The whole thing, so far, feels like a whirlwind, and just the preparation of going to Georgia (just getting confirmed a week ago) has been exciting.  I'm going to Election Camp in a location where not only can I not speak the language, I can't even read the alphabet.

In fact, the pending trip has boldly replaced my marathon anxiety.

Anecdotally, having played goalkeeper on indoor soccer teams for 25 years, I was often injured, usually with nagging things that took weeks to heal.  I was always in pain, but I found that there was a limit to the places I would feel pain.  My sprained wrist, for instance, suddenly didn't hurt after I twisted my knee.

It's as though my brain could only process pain in one area at a time.

This experience has reminded me of that.

I've been apprehensive about running the marathon.  I've ran six half marathons, but never a full.  Last week, when the Georgia trip got real, the marathon seemed much more achievable.

Probably, though, at about mile 18 on Saturday, it will be the Georgia trip that will seem much more achievable.

We'll see.  I've received some great advice from a couple of colleagues and I'm convinced I'll come back with new appreciations for our processes and also a few ideas of things we may want to change.

I'll likely be dark here during the trip and a few days after, but I'll post photos and election administration stories when I return.  There's a whole political backdrop to the election, of course, but I won't touch on that.

Expect boring things like number of polling places, election procedures, turnout, and all the things that I cover here.  Election geekdom needs no visa.