Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mad Men at the Election Office

I'm old enough to remember people smoking in the workplace.

It seems like a crazy work environment in retrospect, but yesterday gave me a flashback.

We just had a new air conditioner installed above my office and all seemed fine, except yesterday was a day for heat.

I switched it over on the thermostat, headed to our mailroom, evaluated the number of returned ballots in both our Roeland Park and Fairway elections, and bopped back to my cave, only to notice considerable amounts of dark smoke coming out of all of our vents.

Our county's facility contact was at our building, coming down from the roof, and I rushed to tell him.

"That's normal," he said.  New units have some amount of oil that must be burned off in the first use.

Thing is, normal here looked like a pretty legitimate fire scene.  The photo from my office was taken about 5 minutes after the unit was turned off.

That also was after I was greeted by our workplace safety coordinator ably directing employees to safety because of the fire.  This was not a drill, but it might as well have been one, and it was executed perfectly.

Not an office from the 1960s
One of our employees pointed out that in our haste, we didn't obtain and take with us the electronic records from previous election tabulations.  Our disaster procedures say we'll do that and this was a pretty good observation that such a thing really wouldn't happen in a real-life emergency.

We've thought as much.

"Pardon me, Mr. Bomb Threat Man, as we evacuate.  Could you kindly verify that the bomb is not in the room where we process and tabulate ballots?"

Such an illogical approach, we figured, would also apply in a fire.  We have a fire-proof safe but, really, if our building burns down, we have bigger issues than recovering the CD of results from the 2008 presidential election.

Such a post is boring, I know.  (That's not stopped me before). 

And it's a minor point.  Still, the overarching learning is that election administrators live for Plans B, C, and D. 

Maybe (maybe?) we over-function.  And, maybe, the farther the plans go down the alphabet (I bet we could hold a contest and find some administrator somewhere who once had a Plan ZZ--not confused with the need for ZZZ's), we have to realize that these might not be disaster plans but, rather, Disaster Dreams.

You might think Disaster Nightmares is a better phrase, but all of these plans are designed to bypass nightmares.  Sometimes, in a safe setting, it's good to see how the plan played out.

We're kind of "anti-network" around here (again, Think Like the Jetsons, Live Like the Flinstones) but we will look to create some sort of private remote storage for past elections based on this learning. 

We do keep backup versions of elections and software at an underground cave as well, and if that isn't living like the Flintsones, I don't know what is. 

For today, though, we're just thankful none of us went up in smoke.


Anonymous said...

Would the 'new' manufactured 'safe' rooms that are out on the market be a quick-fix? The cost doesn't seem too much, but I know it would eat into ELC's budget. Leslie Pratt