Sunday, January 25, 2015

School Elections Near the Finish Line

We're 48 hours from the close of the five school mail-ballot elections, collectively the largest mail-ballot effort we've ever had and the largest number of paper ballots ever processed in Johnson County.

And yet, I'm in the office and it's empty, calm. 

I did not see this coming.  I thought today we'd have a full crew in, buried, wondering what kind of reinforcements we needed.

Our crew left yesterday fully caught up, although we expect an onslaught in the mail tomorrow and many drop-offs Tuesday morning.

So, we don't know when we will have unofficial final results, but it's feeling more like it will be Tuesday, at some point, rather than Wednesday or later.

I could say the reason is our preparation.  That's definitely fair--we thought we were ready, but we weren't sure.  We had about 50 part-time workers, in different stages, different roles, different rooms.

I could say the reason was the decision to utilize a new high-speed scanner, the first ever of its type used in Kansas and one of the first times this model has been used in the country.  It was a big risk--going straight to a live election without staff training through a smaller or test election--but it has gone very smoothly.

I could say the reason is the dedicated hard work from all of our part-time employees.  That's definitely true.  It's very gratifying to see so many people here, working hard and getting paid very little, but caring so much for our voters.

Another factor, though, is that voters aren't voting.

We're at 95,267 ballots returned right now, about 29 percent of the 332,237 ballots issued.

I expected closer to 50 percent returned.  Likely, the final number will be less than 40 percent.

Mail for Santa in Miracle on 34th Street.  We expect
a similar picture, in living color, Tuesday.
As I like to say, there's a lot of baseball left to be played.  We might experience, for instance, a Miracle on 34th Street experience where the post office brings in tray after tray after tray of ballots on Tuesday.

As I type, cars are coming in at the rate of one per minute to drop off ballots.  That will become intense tomorrow and Tuesday.

Still, 40 percent turnout.  That's like, to paraphrase Nuke LaLoosh, lower than 50 percent. 

That's probably all that means.

I don't know that the turnout leads to any conclusions.  We did have a lot of undeliverable ballots (people move, you know) and the turnout is pretty consistent among all 5 districts.

Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission are both at 30 percent, De Soto is at 33 percent, and Olathe and Gardner-Edgerton are both at 26 percent.  Perhaps there is a difference in the communications efforts within the districts, but the number of voters and even the type of voter (apartment vs. home owner, school family vs. non-school) are probably the main factors.

An interesting Big Data project would be to compare all of those factors after the election is over.  While interesting, it simply may be just that.  I'm not sure how actionable the data would be.  There may be learnings political campaigns in these areas can gather for future races.

Our actionable list was very specific--job one was to get the job done.  We're well on our way.

Expect photos and an update on Election Day.

Or is that spring election filing deadline day?

Why, yes, it's the same day, the same time.

These elections close at noon on Tuesday, precisely the same time and date we will know the extent of our March primary election.

We already know we have a primary for Shawnee mayor.  That whole update, likely, will be Wednesday.