We just got back from a well-organized conference of state election officials, part of the annual required training by the Secretary of State.
(A side thought--said before and worth pointing out again--I've served under three Secretaries of State, all men with whom I'm extremely proud to be affiliated. The current Secretary, Kris Kobach, gets his fingernails dirty in the nuts and bolts of elections operations as though he truly is one of us. It means a lot to all of us in the trenches that he knows how our voter registration system works as well as the drivers and restrainers we face).
Anyway, back to the point, the conference is terrific for state issues. We received training required by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), but also updates on systems, issues, and legislation.
When I came into office, in 2005, then Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh had coordinated with his peers in nearby states to host a local, nationally oriented conference. It was called the Midwest Election Officials Conference (MEOC). It was the second MEOC, after one in 2001.
The conference concept considered that many local election officials can't get to a national conference and hear from thought leaders or those with emerging best practices. So, he thought, he'd bring the conference to the Midwest, for election officials in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska.
We had a similar conference in 2009. Every member of our office was allowed to go, and those who went came back with their eyes wider. Our voters benefited.
But, for a variety of reasons, that was the last conference. We didn't have one, as the schedule would have gone, in 2013
I've had an interest in revising the concept, at least for the Kansas City area. I decided I'd create a Mini-MEOC for the Kansas City metro area, interested counties in Kansas, and any others regionally.
I have plenty of election cool kid friends and have asked some if they'd be willing to speak. The response has been heart-warming and overwhelming with my initial small sample.
(In fact, if you are a cool kid--and if you are reading this you are--and want to speak, please contact me).
I wanted to pull it off last year but those 14 elections in 13 months got in the way.
So, Thursday, at the Kansas clerks' conference, we planted a stake in the ground and announced a date for the conference. I figured if we did that, it was official.
Well......it was until I changed the date. We found out about a clerks' conflict.
So, the new dates are Sept. 30-October 2, 2015, in the Kansas City area.
We'll probably piggyback some other meetings earlier in the week, particularly related to our potential new voting system. We'll have vendors. We'll have a gathering that Wednesday night, a full day of sessions on Thursday, and a half day on Friday to break so those who do travel can get home.
We had a small smattering of applause when the conference was announced at the clerks' conference this week. We'll likely work closely with the Kansas County Clerks and Election Officials (KCCEO) organization on the arrangements.
And, now announced in the blog, MEOC is even more officially launched.
Oh, yes, I dropped the "mini." I feel like an Internet patent troll claiming the conference name as my own, but there is some brand cache to MEOC, and I'm looking forward to building on it.