Sunday, March 9, 2014

Would That Be ElectionS Day?

We're looking at something that rarely happens--two elections on the same day.

I guess it's the equivalent of an elections lunar eclipse.  Or, a double rainbow.

The election double rainbow actually had to be the time in 2010 when we had two recall elections in Gardner the same day as a spring primary in Prairie Village and Shawnee.

This is a two-fer though, as well.  A day-night doubleheader, in fact.

Actually, as I type, I'm not sure there is a standard definition of what comprises an election.

It could be a specific race, or a group of races in one city, or anything scheduled on a day.  I'm not sure all communities define elections the same way.  I remember reading about an election administrator who had managed more than 5,000 elections, so I know he was counting something I wasn't.

But, because I'm in the habit of counting things (come on, it's what we do), I count the number of elections I've worked.   And, in doing that, I had to come up with my own definition.

I consider an election to be a scheduled primary or general election.  A scheduled primary is an election on a day for races leading to the general election and may include a subset of the races (such as one ward in one city). 

I suppose if a primary was scheduled and no races triggered an election, it would be hard to really support my definition in that case.  That would be some sort of election fault, like a missed serve in tennis, and not count as an election.

That's also, by the way, never happened since I've been here.  We've always had at least one race in a primary election.

Then, to continue the definition, I consider any special election called by a governing body (or me in the odd case of a recall) to be a separate election.

We have a mail-ballot election in Fairway scheduled for May 13 now.  And, just to keep our average of 6 elections per year alive and strong, we got word last week that Roeland Park will need a special election to fill an open city council race.

Roeland Park is the only city in the county that backfills an opening this way.  The city's ordinance puts a parameter on when the election can be held, and the math leads us to May 6 or May 13.

We'll seal the deal as a staff on Monday, but we're looking at May 13.

So, that's two, two, two elections on the same day. 

One is a mail-ballot that closes at noon.  The other, a polls election, closes at 7.

That's wacky. 

This way, though, we at least have some economies of scale with our special board that processes the ballots by mail.  And, we only have to have one Board of Canvassers meeting.

I haven't yet figured out the agenda for that meeting, though.  Typically, we like to go through ballots we recommend to count first so that the special board can be off and working while we go through those recommended not to be counted. 

That short period often is enough time for the special board to update results, allowing the canvassers to stay in our building with a short recess rather than reconvening back at our office late in the day.

So, we are now about to live a little piece of election trivia.  And, we will have had four elections before the first five months of the year are completed.

And what is that question about what election people do when there isn't an election?  I'll answer that when we aren't working on one.