Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Here we are on a Tuesday, election day somewhere, and always a reason to post if it's been a while.

And it has been a while.

You might think that's because of slow goins' at the election office, but it's really been the opposite, with so much grist I've actually written two posts and decided not to publish them.

There will be a time for those soon enough, after our own election day of April 1.
This might be my favorite
text message received of
all time.  It may me think
of the people who get upset
when we didn't alert them
that they DIDN'T have
an election.  There
was no election in Johnson
County today, by the way.
(Only when posting it today
did I realize the grammatical
issue, too.  I was just so
stunned that I received a
text that my prescription
wasn't ready).

We're mailing out ballots for that election now, testing the capability to print our own ballots for all of those we send in advance.  That process is in itself a post, but intertwined with some thoughts of advance voting locations (another post) and some legislative activity (yet another post).

And, all the while, I still have my homework punch list of localized anecdotes related to the recommendations from the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

Tomorrow, we'll have our first new election worker training session of 2014.  We don't really need new workers for this election, but we need to keep the pipeline fresh so that these 24 new cadets will be seasoned by the time we hit November.

We have refresher training for the returning workers in this election on Thursday and Saturday and additional supervising judge training the following Saturday.

On Thursday, though, our parking lot will be packed with election workers and if we were open for advance voting (that begins the following Tuesday), there would be no place for voters to park.

You might remember that the county purchased the "rectory," the little house to the south of our office  nearly two years ago.  The idea was that it might provide an opportunity for easier entrance and exit to our office during the peak of advance voting.

In those time, we have police navigating traffic.  In fact, on the Monday before 2008's presidential election day, our office was required by law to close advance voting at noon.

We had a line and after consulting with the Secretary of State's office, we determined that we should treat the noon deadline just as we would with a polls closing time on election night--those in line at noon could vote, while those coming up after noon came too late.

Problem was, the line was more of a swarm.  Our parking lot was full and people were leaving their cars at other buildings and hopping over bushes to come to our lot.  We decided that anyone in the parking lot at noon was "in line."

Still, there was a line of cars literally a mile long waiting to turn in to the lot at noon.  We had a police car drive to the end of that line and when he made into our parking lot about an hour later, we declared that he was the official end of the line.

(In 2008 by the way, lines were cool, a sign of freedom.  There was no "we've got to fix that" declared that day--"how do we sustain this" was more the tone that day.)

Anyway, in light of traffic and the purchase of the rectory, we were very interested to learn that a little sliver of adjacent property to the north of our building was going up for auction last Thursday.

Our county's appetite to purchase property since the acquisition of the former King Louie bowling alley has waned and this lot was a casualty to that discretion.  I don't know that I had personal feelings about the potential purchase other than that it seemed misguided to purchase the rectory if the county had no intention to literally close the loop and bid on this property.

I didn't advocate the purchase of the rectory, but we had that land now.  Surely there had to be a price where this land on the north side made sense to purchase.

Even though the county was not a bidder, I decided to watch the auction.  It had an auctioneer, a microphone, a speaker, and bid numbers, just like a real auction.

It also had no bidders.

Bidding started at $500,000, then $300,000, then $150,000, and then the auction closed without a bid.  After the auction ended, the one attendee besides me made an offer for $110,000, and from what I can tell, the sellers aren't expected to accept that offer.

The sellers bought the land with the intention of building a hotel.  That hotel would have come in handy during our winter snowstorm election last year, but the hotel concept became a victim of the recession.

Now, the area around our office is likely to be built as more warehouse space associated with a train intermodal being built about eight miles away.

This property may have greater relevance here on the blog in coming months.  There still may be an opportunity (and a reason) to purchase it.

There's another post there coming.  A theme you'll get for the next few posts, though, is that there are times where the actual election operations become the smallest part of our jobs--not because there isn't an election, but rather because there is a need to constantly mind the store.