Sunday, February 1, 2015

Track and Field

The Super Bowl is just hours away and a few hours from that, 9 a.m. tomorrow, the wrap-up will begin to our Super Bowl of elections--five school district mail-ballot elections on January 27.

That January 27 was a day. 

The election closed at noon, as ballots were being dropped off in person at the rate of 3 a minute.

Also at noon, the candidate filing deadline for the spring election.  With the deadline passed, about one-third of the county's voters have will be eligible for the spring primary on March 3.

We have a mayorial primary in Shawnee, two city council primaries in Roeland Park, and an Olathe School District primary.

We've had 5 mail-ballot elections on the same day (just now, but also 3 on the same day before), we've had different types of elections at the polls on the same day (primary in one city, recall in another), and we've had two different types of elections on the same day (mail-ballot ending at noon on the same day as a polls election ending at 7).

But we've never had the finish line tape crossed in one election at the same time the starter pistol was going for another.  That made Tuesday feel like an election office track meet. 

Some in our office were gathering the last ballots dropped; others were assessing which races might require primaries, polling places, election worker needs, and ballot plans.

It gave new meaning to continuing with an active election.

Ten years ago last month, I came to the Johnson County Election Office, and we have had an active election every moment in those 10 years.

How do I term an active election?  Well, one we are actively working on is the simplest way.

But the definition is more narrow. 

For instance, we're thinking about the 2016 presidential election, but that's not an active election. 

We're working on the spring primary--that's active.

It will be followed by the spring general--that's active.

The next election isn't scheduled until the winter of 2016.  The election isn't set, with candidates and questions, so that election isn't active.

And what that means is that fate is teasing us--the streak may come to an end in mid-April as we wrap up the spring canvass.

It's a bit of way to have an answer to the "what do you do the other 363 days of the year?" or "is that a full-time job?"

Back to the Super Bowl--I'm pretty sure the NFL event personnel work full-time for this once-a-year game. 

Elections are no different. 

We're event planners, after all.  That, and logistics managers. 

So, when I mention this active election streak, it means one thing to me and it means something else to those who were working at our office before I came.  As far as I can tell, the actual active election streak is about 14 years.

Tomorrow's canvass day--Groundhog Day, ironically--for the mail-ballot elections will mean closure to those five elections.  We're already working on election number six and seven.

It's unlikely that we will go the rest of 2015 without a special election. 

For instance, in 2013, the day after the spring election, I received a call from a city to schedule a mail-ballot election.

Nobody here is hoping for such a call this April.  We'd be fine with that streak ending.  We have more than enough pent-up work.

After all, advance voting for our real Super Bowl begins in just 21 months.