Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Year of The Voter

We'll be sending our annual election worker availability forms soon and the forms include an informal newsletter to our workers.

That newsletter always includes a column I write.  The column usually either sums up the year we've had or previews themes for the coming year.

The column gave me an opportunity to stress what I've been saying here for a while:
It's getting really hard to vote.

We’re losing facilities as polling places, potential advance voting locations are becoming scarce, and the United States Postal Service is much less predictable than it was when advance voting began to take off nearly 20 years ago.

We just heard, in fact, anecdotally that our bellwether advance voting site, Metcalf South Shopping Center, may not be available for use anymore.
At this point, we might need to go door-to-door on election day.  Hey, if Santa can hit the whole world in one night, surely we could hit the whole county in one day.
Our county chairman jokingly suggested we enlist Amazon Drones as voting devices.  Personally, I don't think we can rule anything out at this point, and the thought of hundreds of drones descending upon our office at 7 p.m. presents a fun and creepy sci-fi image.
Maybe Jeff Bezos could take on the needs of our voters as his new high-tech hobby.
With the obstacles ahead, I've decided our office and our election workers should adopt 2014 as The Year of The Voter.
This begs the initial question--why just this year?  After all, every day is children's day, and every year should be The Year of The Voter.
But adopting this mindset, now, is a way to demonstrate that we are resolved, no matter how hard the outside forces are making it, to ensure that anyone who legally can vote and wants to vote, will vote. We must radiate our resolve.
I fully understand that I'm leading with my chin on this, that any obstacle that arises will be thrown back at me as inconsistent with The Year of The Voter. 
I'm used to this.  In fact, years ago, as marketing director for the $1.5 billion wholesale services division at Sprint, I felt that our biggest impediment to growth was us.  We made it too hard to do business with us.
We developed an advertising theme and an internal communications program around being easy to do business with.  One campaign showed we put our customers on Easy Street, although in between Easy and Street (on the street sign), we added a few tiny words so it was "Easy to Do Business With Street.
Still, over that time, if a sales person couldn't get a specific rate for his customer or an account manager needed a maintenance report, for instance, the needs for these things were expressed under the guise of Easy to Do Business With.  That phrase became cover for anything, sort of a "gotcha" used often at the wrong times but, still, it was effective.
None of us wanted to be called out for not being Easy to Do Business With, even if we were being called out, for instance, for a conference room being too cold.
I'm sure the Year of the Voter will have similar fallout.  Ice in the parking lot?  Wouldn't happen in the Year of the Voter!  
Bad cookies at election worker training?  In the Year of the Voter?  What?!
Still, if a couple of thousand of us can take this approach, hopefully our resolve and compassion will be apparent to voters.  

As polling-place availability is compromised, for instance, voters will be moved to different sites, often to locations that were very busy already.  Advance voting sites may be less convenient, if they exist at all at this rate.

(I suggested--and not in jest--that if we don't have Metcalf South for an advance voting site that we put up long trailers in the parking lot of the King Louie facility just down the street.  This is something I seriously will be pursuing if the Metcalf South loss becomes real).
Point is, we must do all we can to serve as the Voter Concierge, a focal point where voters can count on someone looking out for them.  It’s hard being a voter these days, and to a large degree, if we don’t look out for our voters, no one will.

The first step to being committed as a Voter Concierge, or to The Year of The Voter, is go public with the concept, chin-up.

In the newsletter, and here, that just happened.