Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It (Really Is) Election Day!

Today is an election day, Olathe mail-ballot election, and a good day for a couple of snippets.

As I write this, at 1:13 p.m., I'm hearing someone at the front counter dropping off a ballot for the election that closed at noon, with results posted to our web about a half hour ago.

That's unfortunate, of course.  This is a real voter who for what likely was a legitimate reason, did not have a vote count because he delivered his ballot after the election closed.

This was not an issue with the post office.  Regular readers of this blog know that I'm pretty harsh with our local post office, so I feel obliged to trumpet the local post office's great work in this election.

I'm happy to report that during this election, the Olathe Post Office has been stellar.  We received ballot delivery early each morning in a special run.  They called us today after the delivery to say they had one ballot in addition to those delivered, and they brought it.

It's been a great change.  That's not all of the postal news here, though.

Before I went out of the country to observe the presidential election, in fact, I saw an article in The Wall Street Journal that linked to all of my previous post-office and traveling thoughts.

First, being a world traveler and all now, I was intrigued that the article came from London, speaking to the Royal Mail service.

(Speaking of world travel, I actually have a follow-up post to the Georgia visit that I offered to be reviewed by PAE-REACT before posting.  They are crazy busy and I'm sure will be back in touch soon.  So, that piece is coming.)

One of my thoughts when reading about the United State's Postal Service's financial woes has been that the Postal Service leadership has poorly managed things.  I believe the United State Postal Service is doing little to change the trajectory of its losses, either because the service is poorly managed or because the leadership is either hoping for a bailout or to make some other point with Congress.

If we ran a business that lost billions, we'd do what we could to change things, rather than just put our hands up in the air.  I think there is much more in the control of the leadership than they suggest.

Plus, I postulated during a meeting with PEW in August, "What if the post office privatized?"   To my dismay, it wasn't the type of question that pumped up the room.  It didn't even pump me up, and I asked it.  So, maybe it was just the (wait for it....) delivery.

I was just trying to think of creative ways things might change going forward--it's too easy to suggest that voting by mail will cease at some point because of the Postal Service's downward spiral.

So, in response to my August question, I bring to you the Wall Street Journal article:  The Royal Mail did privatize, not without issue, but, hey, that wacky ElectionDiary guy isn't completely in left field, after all!

Speaking of left field, I also share with you some of an email we received a week ago.  We often hear that we could do more to get the word out for an election and we all know the value of outreach, but it's not uncommon for us to be taken to the woodshed for not telling a voter that there wasn't an election.

We have had voters complain to us that we should send a mailing to let them know they didn't have an election.  Really.

Here's an email from someone we missed:

I was unable to find the post card that was sent to me but I went to the Johnson County website and put in my first name, last name, and polling place.  The site returned (a specific polling place). When I went to (it), they told me that there is no polling place.  Why is the website providing incorrect information? This is infuriating... If a voter loses that card, the website is a natural backup. If the website is not providing correct information then you are FAILING the voter. I called the Johnson County Elections phone number and got a recorded message. How do you not provide a live voice on election days (held once a year) to aid the voter.  This is a BIG FAIL by Johnson County. 
We did email him back and haven't received a response again.  It is a bit funny, but a fair issue because we are just one county in a large metropolitan area that crosses state lines.  There was a one-question election in Kansas City that day.
In fact, some television outlets were reporting that the Olathe election that finished today actually completed last Tuesday.
It also highlights a precursor to what surely will be an item in the upcoming Kansas legislative session.  I believe people are conditioned to expect an election in November.  We in the industry know that, at least in Kansas, November elections only occur in even years.  Most voters don't know that.
Heck, it took me four years working here before I figured out that leap year was always a presidential election year.  That's obvious trivia even many election geeks don't know.
Point is, in Kansas, there is a suggestion of moving spring city elections to November, and I think that's a great idea.  It certainly would have kept our emailing voter's blood from boiling last week.
The issue tends to get bundled with the idea of partisan elections for local races.  I don't have an opinion on that aspect, other than that I think the two thoughts should be kept separated.  There are good administrative reasons to move the spring elections to November.
One last odd thing about today.  Some local schools, in session yesterday, are out today, a Tuesday, in November.  I'll have an update soon on schools but, in my view, this only supports that having an election school holiday in November (maybe part of that legislative action I just mentioned) is very viable.