Sunday, October 19, 2014

Advance Voting is Underway!

Advance voting in person begins tomorrow and if that has come up on you, dear reader, fast, it has on us, too.

We literally have been too busy to type, mostly because we've been having election worker training each day while pumping through thousands of advance voting applications and ballots.

This time is also the period for the latest installment of "People Move."

Our ballots went out Wednesday, with a couple thousand going out each day since.  Before that, however, we sent a teaser postcard to all voters to remind them of the upcoming election and their advance voting options.

This mailing list for the postcard was created in September, about a month after all changes from the August election were finalized.  Any postcard that came back undeliverable in July resulted in an updated voter record.  Provisional ballots that required address changes were updated.  New registrations were processed.

Yet, in that time, we have this, in terms of undelivered postcards:

The pictures show the same number, with the second picture just now sorted so we can begin working these.  Funny, those outside of elections have no sense of the number of transactions we process and what list maintenance means.

Further, the linkage to election offices and the mail service is incredible.  Postage is such a huge expense.  Mailing the postcard, which allows us to be compliant with the National Voter Registration Act, costs about $130,000.

Yes, that flimsy little drab postcard costs that much just to mail.  It makes you wonder how much all of the candidate campaign and Johnson County government mailings to households cost (well, it makes me wonder, but it also makes me wonder--how again is it that the post office is struggling)?

Our first day ballots are photographed in little cages.  They look tidy.

Ballots mailed Wednesday night, some
voted and returned by mail Saturday.
And, on Saturday, we already had some back in the mail!  Note, however, the small number of white envelopes.  We'll get more.  Those are ballots that were undeliverable.  We'll likely mail out about 40,000 ballots in this election and somewhere between 500 and 1,000 will come back undeliverable, which usually means that people moved between the time they requested the ballots in the last couple of weeks and the time we mailed them.

In-person advance voting will be at our office, 9800 Metcalf, the Great Mall of the Great Plains, and the Johnson County Northeast offices starting tomorrow morning.

Below are a couple of photos from this summer that I thought were worth a giggle from the Great Mall.

The first just looks funny to me because of the "Quite Please" that displays so prominently with no voters yet, as though it's an election museum.

The other is from advertisement inside the mall.  Apparently, mall management anticipates a stressful election season.

We have much going on with more updates soon.  Tomorrow night, we have election worker training for high-school students.  Tuesday and Wednesday, we have the all-important opening games of the World Series.

The last time a World Series came into play during a November election cycle in Kansas City, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter were running.  There was no advance voting.

I do wonder how the Series could impact voting patterns.  Maybe there will not be an impact, but that seems unlikely.

My early thought is that advance voting may trend slower than it did in, comparably, 2010, with a possible pick-up late next week.  However, Halloween is on a Friday (a great late-afternoon, early evening to vote, by the way--NO lines at our office), so that will get in the way of voting.

Intuitively, I think some advancers will just wait until election day, but election day is unpredictable (and what if it's the day of the victory parade?).

Of course, our election planning is pretty baked at this point.  Polling places were secured a year ago, advance sites buttoned down in January, and all new election worker training will be over tomorrow.  We have to finish new training before the onslaught of voters to our parking lot--we don't have enough parking for new worker training AND voters.

We conduct refresher training now offsite, in classes of 250+ at a time, at the University of Kansas Edwards campus.  Moving new worker training is much more problematic because we have smaller classes and an entire "Perfect Polling Place" for skits to help the workers connect the dots.

Something's got to give on that, though, space-wise.  That's a problem to ponder in late 2015, our next chance for a breather, maybe.

Live voting engines start tomorrow.

Photos above and below from the Great Mall.