Thursday, April 24, 2014

We Need a Live Rooster

If you know me, you know I'm not a fan of business casual.

My preference is either suits or jeans. 

I never understood this third level of Granimals for Adults attire that many men would change into when coming home, back when we wore suits every day to work.  Taking off dress clothes to put on Dockers just seemed pointless to me.

Dockers at work, business casual, just feels like I'm wearing a Little League baseball uniform.

Besides, there's something about feeling like a real man when I encounter a day that leads to at least 12 hours in a suit.  I've always felt that wrinkles to a starched shirt represented battle scars from a tough day at the office.

Plus, being a poor government employee now, that $2.50 to have my shirt cleaned and starched requires the long day for a proper Return on Investment.

Yesterday was such a day, when I spoke at a county training session for emerging leaders in the morning and then participated in a panel on voting last night at an event put on by the Johnson County League of Women Voters.

Dave Helling from the Kansas City Star moderated, and I was joined by Holly Weatherford from the ACLU, state senator Greg Smith, and state representative Tom Sawyer.

It provided me some patter for my ongoing narrative.  Dave asked a concluding question of what each of us thought needed to happen in the next 5 to 10 years to make voting easier and to address some of the concerns we discussed.

My answer was that it would be great if we had a similar forum that wasn't put on by the League of Women Voters.  Last night's forum was the equivalent of preaching to the choir. 

Elections affect everyone, and it would be good if those other stakeholders (counties, cities, schools, and others) were interested and involved in addressing election administration reform.

That was my observation of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA)--great that election officials were involved but the general take I get from the response to the report is what I was worried would occur.  The only people who seem to be thinking about the report are election administrators and election enthusiasts (geeks).

Still, the 60 or so attendees from last night are election enthusiasts (League members may not consider "geeks" an endearing term, so, for now, "enthusiasts.")

I kicked off the discussion by referring to an article in the Star that morning that mentioned a couple of departments that had been underfunded, and I explained that we were no different.

In fact, we have the same-sized staff that we had 20 years ago, despite our modest requests to increase staff.

To put that in context, our staff size is the same as it was before households used the Internet. Windows '95 began the mainstreaming of Internet browsing.

The last successful new headcount request at the
Johnson County Election Office was typed on a computer
that didn't even yet have this operating system
My heavily starched shirts (I like to whistle to my closet and have the shirts walk out to me) cost only $1 per cleaning then.

"Google" wasn't yet a verb.

Anyway, that staffing issue is just one proof point of many budget needs, including voting equipment, that I will address in a future post, all at once, as the budget process unfolds.  I'll do that as part of my loosely threaded series of responses to the localized impact of the PCEA recommendations.

My big point now is that the suits are in rotation--speaking event last night, next Saturday, two weeks from Thursday, and three weeks from Monday.  And, we're just getting started.

Today was a jeans day, but I did a final walkthrough of our advance voting site we plan to use across from the Metcalf South shopping center.

We're lining up plans to utilize ballot-on-demand printing at two of our advance voting sites (for provisional ballots).

We just had a monsoon of a rainstorm as I began typing this piece and that literal hole in the wall in the warehouse we'd noticed since the security system was installed last month gave way to an indoor wading pool.  So, now, there's that.

We got word today that the US Department of Immigration will not stand in the way of the League photographing naturalization certificates, on our iPad, to assist new citizens when registering.

All of the sudden, we have a lot of moving pieces.

I feel like I'm Crash on the mound today, outlining what's going on to the pitching coach.

"And, we need a live... is it a live rooster? We need a live rooster to take the curse off Jose's glove and nobody seems to know what to get Millie or Jimmy for their wedding present."

So, overnight, as the suit was hung up, it became clear that it's on--the frenzy of the August and November elections, and all the chaos that we simultaneously hate and use as an energy source, is here.