Thursday, February 19, 2015

Amidst the Chaos

It may be 2015, but our advance voting options for 2016 are front and center with the news that the Great Mall in Olathe will be closing this year.

Far from a perfect location, the facility was good for us and helped offload traffic from our office.

Combined with the fact that we have no central county solution (maybe, the King Louie site will be ready for July 2016, but I think that's fairly iffy) and that our building is stressed, advance voting has become a big-time issue.

That's also because we will need at least 100 more polling places in 2016 than we had in 2014.  We wont find them, which makes advance voting sites all the more important.

With the economy improving, advance locations are more scarce.  Plus, we can't negotiate for these until January, at the earliest, of next year.  No landlord of vacant space now wants to admit the space will be vacant, still, a year from now.

This likely will increase voting costs dramatically.

I've already tried to brace anyone who will listen that election costs in 2016 will be at least $1.5 million more than they were in 2014.

This isn't negotiable.  In what likely will be another jump from reality, it's already been proposed by the county manager's budget office to us that people will just have to wait in line longer in 2016.

So much for those presidential commission on election administration recommendations making it through the National Association of Counties....

That's the wrong answer, of course.

Something will have to give when the budget is developed, but it won't be our voters.

We're looking at the potential for an 80 percent turnout in 2016, with more registered voters than 2012.  We have lost two advance sites since 2012 and nearly 100 polling places.

First things first, we're in a stretch of 7 election days in 11 weeks.  Training for the spring primary begins Saturday.

Currently, I'm out of town for an ES&S National Advisory Board, and that always leads to voting systems for the future, a theme that circles back to our budget.

In the backdrop, we've had some legislative action related to moving spring elections to the fall, as well as the hope that schools will be required by law to be used as a polling places.  Like all of this, these are more moving pieces that we will be balancing and syncing this year.

Amidst the chaos--our new normal.  My goal is to clear the chaos by January 1, as a glidepath to 2016.

That's goal in itself will lead to 10 months of chaos.  The good news is we're about a year into the chaos plan, so 10 months seems like the last mile.

Here's hoping.