Apr 10, 2017
Here’s something I recently learned about “April”; it comes from the Latin verb aperire, which means, “to open.” I always love this time of year when the trees and flowers begin to “open,” even if it does come with a fine layer of green dust coating everything. Fortunately, the April rains wash the pollen away. But after a long winter, this season of new life gives me hope and a renewed energy to tackle projects on my to-do list.
Speaking of new life, have you been following this viral story? At a zoo called Animal Adventure Park in New York it looks like the appropriately named April the giraffe will be delivering her calf soon. The Park is live streaming April, and hundreds of thousands of people are tuning in, waiting for the moment April gives birth to the baby giraffe. (Here’s the link in case your interest is peaked: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fp-G2-DAXYU.)
What does all this have to do with elections you ask? Well, last week, I was honored to give a talk to the students in the Election Law Society at the William & Mary Law School. In other words, I was invited to speak with baby lawyers in the making (no disrespect intended, students!). Having been in that position some years back (hey, not THAT long ago!), in addition to passing my finals and eventually the bar exam, I remember being slightly obsessed with getting a summer job – and a real job, once I graduated. With that in mind, I spoke the students about my own path to becoming an elections commissioner. If I had told my law-school self that I would become a presidential appointee to an election commission, I’m sure I would have reacted something like this: “Dream on!”, (with heavy cynicism in my voice). At that point, I had been a part-time assistant voter registrar for a decade, and the possibility of actually practicing law in the elections field was just a hope. My path was certainly not straight, and like April the giraffe, included lots of labor pains. And much to my continued surprise, I am thrilled to be contributing to our country and the elections community at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
I have to tell you, it was awesome to look out over a room packed with open-faced, industrious, and eager students who can’t wait to contribute to our vocation. These students are drawn to a calling that is complex, requires continual forward-thinking and planning, is hard work, and requires lots of patience. Come to think of it, running an election is kind of like having a baby. It requires lots of planning, waiting, and hard work, and when it’s time, it’s time. There is no moving election day. And as many election administrators have told me, every election (like every child) is different.
But, unlike having babies, there is no stopping in the election world! The elections just keep on coming. I am excited to plan the next one with you – I’ve already been able to get out and visit some incredible elections directors and offices this year and have heard some fantastic ideas that I expect (ha! no pun intended) we will share with you through our clearinghouse function.
I’m also eager to meet with our Standards Board at the end of this month. The guidance, advise, and feedback from our advisory boards is critical to the EAC, and we are open to hearing what they, and you, have to say about how we can be of service to you. Like me, I know you have lots to tackle on your to-do lists, but now that it’s spring and winter is over (well, almost over – I heard some of my Northern friends actually had snow the other day), we have new energy and new hope to accomplish some great things this year. Let us know how the EAC can help!
And here’s an idea for you – if you don’t already, think about and be open to inviting a student into your office to do an internship. We need to foster a new generation of elections officials. They are eager to learn and hopefully soon start a career in elections.
Many celebrate new life and hope this April, so Pesach Sameach!, Happy Easter!, Happy Patriots Day! (Love WILL defeat evil), Happy Earth Day!, Happy Administrative Professionals Day!, Happy Take Your Daughter to Work Day!, and Happy Arbor Day! The trees and flowers are blooming – Happy April!