Have you seen (or maybe signed) the petition being circulated by Heinz (yes, the ketchup company) to make the Monday after Super Bowl Sunday a holiday? The company claims that 16 million people call in sick that day and says that it will forward the petition to the White House if it collects at least 100,000 signatures. The idea to create a "Smunday" holiday has been around for about 10 years, so far, obviously, without success. The idea to make Election Day a national holiday has been around even longer and, so far, that has not been a successful effort either.
On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, election administrators played their equivalent to the Super Bowl. With all the months and months of daily hard work that it takes to pull off Election Day, no doubt they probably wish they could take the Wednesday after as a holiday, too. The most they get is a few hours of sleep early Wednesday morning before they have to go back to the office and make sure the vote tally is completed and accurate in preparation for certification of the final result. Only after that can our election administrators take a deep breath – and maybe a day or two off – before beginning to work on the next election.
For election administrators 2017 is the equivalent of the "off-season." With the exception of New Jersey and Virginia, both of which have governor races this year, most states and territories do not have big elections. Yes, there are still some special and local elections, but for the most part, it will be much quieter than last year. For an idea of how they will spend their time, we can look at the strictly regulated off-season activities prescribed by the National Football League. First, players will take a short break before they start getting ready for next season by participating in strength and conditioning workouts, physical rehab, organized team activities, and drills. Team management will reflect on the past season, adjusting coaching staffs, reconsidering decisions, evaluating programs, reviewing films and with an eye toward filling any holes in their rosters, re-signing players, drafting college players and signing free agents. They’ll do everything they can to improve their teams’ chances for success next season.
Elections administrators across the country will be engaging in similar activities. They’ll be reflecting on the last election, reconsidering how they made decisions and allocated resources, analyzing turnout and line issues, filling gaps in their staff and poll worker programs, doing list maintenance, preparing requests for bids and purchasing new equipment, fixing and maintaining old equipment, reviewing polling locations and accessibility issues, conducting drills, ordering supplies, setting schedules and deadlines and on and on. (As I like to say, most people think that running an election consists of rolling a voting machine out of a closet once a year on Election Day, reading the totals after the vote, and rolling the machine back into the closet until the next election. They have no idea what it really takes to pull off a successful election.) Election administrators will be doing everything they can to improve and better the next election.
The EAC is here to provide support to our election administrators in the off-season. Our off-season mantra this year is #GamePlan17. We will be hosting events and providing information and best practices on list maintenance, security, writing RFPs, purchasing and maintaining equipment, complying with language requirements, collecting and leveraging data, allocating resources, advancing accessibility and much, much more. We invite elections administrators to let us know what you need in this "off-season." As our middle name states, our job is to assist you.
American elections excelled last year in spite of all the predictions of doom, hacking, and gloom. With all the off-season work, they are going to be even better next year. Now if we could only give election administrators a Wednesday after Election Day holiday. Maybe we could call it Welectday.