2002 - 2003 Annual Report
Johnson County Election Office
Connie Schmidt, Election Commissioner
Highlights of 2002 - 2003
Award Winning, Nationally Recognized Programs, Staff
Saving Taxpayer Money!
You Can Help
The 2004-2005 Elections
Engaging Our Youth In Democracy
What People Are Saying About Johnson County Elections
It Takes A Community Partnership
About Election Workers
Ask any computer programmer or system integrator anywhere and you will get the same answer. Deployment of a system-wide computerized software/hardware solution is a huge undertaking. It is no different in the business of elections - EXCEPT - there can be no mistakes and the systems must always work.
To their credit, the staff of the Johnson County Election Office has accomplished this feat twice in the past three years. First, in early 1999 our voter registration/election management software was converted from an old main frame system to an in-house centralized voter registration software/hardware system. We went from a system maintained and supported entirely by the County's Information Technology Department to a free-standing internal system managed and operated by the full time staff of the Johnson County Election Office.
The next project we faced was even bigger - the deployment of a new computerized voting system - hardware and software. In 2002, with a reduced full time staff of just fourteen people, our office coordinated the entire project on our own. We were our own project management team! From acceptance testing of 860 touch screen voting computers and 860 voting booths…to educating and informing the public about the new voting system…to training and re-training over 1,600 election workers - we did it all!! The response from our voters was extremely positive. The voter feedback cards tell the story - a 90% customer approval rating!
Yes, the year 2002 was an incredible year - a year the Election Office staff will always remember for the successful deployment of our new countywide computerized voting system. But, we are not finished.
With the enactment of the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in late 2002, all states are required to implement a statewide centralized voter registration system. Once again, our staff is preparing to change software systems as we join with 104 other Kansas counties to convert and merge our individual county voter registration databases into one statewide state-of-the-art voter registration/election management system. Other changes to the election process as a result of HAVA include voter identification and accessibility requirements relating to the voter's polling place and balloting/voting process.
On behalf of Johnson County's election office team, I look back with great pride on our successful deployment of new technology, and I look forward to 2004 and beyond as we embrace new federal and state election laws. The good news is that all of these new laws were enacted to achieve one basic principle - improve the administration of the voting process, improve access to all voters, and assure that every valid vote is counted and counted accurately. The challenges of the new election laws are not new to us. They continue to be communication and education of our full time staff, election workers, candidates, media and all voters in Johnson County.
Our challenge to each of you is simple - make your own personal commitment now to participate in every election by exercising your most important right - the right to vote in a free democracy. With your participation, the spotlight will shine on Johnson County as the highest voter turnout county in the United States of America!
Let's make it happen!!!!
In the past two years, the Johnson County Election Office held eleven elections, seven of which were polls elections and four of which were by mail ballot. Johnson Countians cast 353,050 votes during that time.
Additionally, the Election Office….
- Introduced touch screen voting machines - the first in the Midwest to use this new technology!
- Handled three separate candidate filing deadlines for the August primary because of delays in redistricting. Election Office staff picked up ballots at KCI airport to meet the deadline for mailing ballots to advance voters.
- Processed three different ballots for every precinct in the county in the August primary, an extra effort required because of the county charter change to non-partisan County Commissioner races.
- With the ability to display ballots for all precincts in the county, collected in-person advance votes for the first time on voting machines at early voting locations.
- Set records in the August 2002 election in the number of contests (1,694), candidates (2,869) and ballot styles (1,209).
- Set a record during the November 2002 gubernatorial election with 333,710 registered voters eligible to vote. Precincts increased to a record 409 to accommodate population growth and redistricting.
- Held elections that included a recall election for a council member in Merriam, an election to consolidate the city of Countryside into Mission, and election of the first chair of the Board of County Commissioners.
- Consolidated precincts on voting machines so fewer voting locations could be opened for lower voter turnout elections.
- Had record web site visits with 1.9 million in October and November 2002 and 446,081 on Election Day November 5, 2002, alone.
- Reached out to the community with 30 speaking engagements for local groups and events and numerous presentations and facility tours for scout troops, churches, and schools.
- Engaged more than 16,000 students in student elections throughout the county.
The National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks recognized "Celebrate the Vote" with a NACRC Best Practices Award in 2002.
The National Association of County Information Officers recognized Election
Connie Schmidt for her testimony before the U.S. House Administration Committee. The committee was focused on the importance of funding for election offices. NACIO recognized her with a superior rating, its highest award.
The Election Office's 58-page manual, "Implementing a Voting System from a Local Election Administrator's Viewpoint," was selected for use in 2004 as the training textbook at the Election Center national workshop in California. The publication was created by staff, and 291 copies have been ordered by counties in 26 states. Election Commissioner Connie Schmidt made presentations on this subject in New York, Colorado, and Iowa.
States across the country are learning from Johnson County's successes. Among the programs being borrowed from Johnson County are: "Making Voting Popular" by Los Angeles County, California; "Adopt a Polling Place" by Orange County, Florida; the Student Election Worker program by New Castle County, Delaware; and Prince Georges County, Maryland.
This year Johnson County Election Commissioner Connie Schmidt was reappointed to a third four-year term and became the first and only certified elections administrator in the State of Kansas.
Commissioner Schmidt and staff shared their expertise and innovative programs by presenting to election professionals on the state and national level. They spoke on topics as diverse as training workers on new voting systems, installing new systems, becoming a certified elections registration administrator, and managing election stress. Their audiences ranged from attendees at the Election Center National Conference to professionals at state associations in Iowa, New York, Colorado, Wyoming, Missouri and Kansas. The Election Office also hosted guests from the Republic of Belarus, Russia.
Commissioner Connie Schmidt serves as a member of the following:
- Federal Election Commission's NASED Voting Systems Standards Board
- The Election Center, including chair of the Professional Education Program Certification Board, Elections Reform Task Force member, and HAVA (Help America Vote Act) Implementation Committee
- Kansas HAVA (Help America Vote Act) Advisory Council
- Kansas County Clerks and Election Officials, including vice-chair of Elections Committee and Education Committee.
Votey - a patriotic mini-robotic vehicle - is shown here visiting with local elementary students. A gift to the Johnson County Election Office from the Celebration of Patriotism Foundation of Johnson County, Votey moves, speaks, listens, winks and blinks his lights by remote control. As the newest member of the Election Office's voter outreach team, Votey is available by appointment for voter education activities in schools and at public gatherings.
In the face of phenomenal population growth, the Johnson County Election Office has maintained a high level of service and convenience, although it functions with fewer staff and a smaller approved 2004 Presidential budget when compared to the 2000 Presidential election cycle. It is worth noting that Johnson County Election Office operates with 4.49 staff members per 100,000 voters, a figure significantly lower than comparable counties (see chart below).
New technology has allowed the Election Office to reduce operating and overtime costs while absorbing additional costs, such as an increase in election worker salaries, additional postage and printing, a voting systems software maintenance agreement, and a mandatory Help America Vote Act (HAVA) payment to the State of Kansas.
Because a single new voting machine can store and display many ballots, the office has been able to consolidate precincts to fewer voting locations in the county during elections that generate lower voter turnouts. The new voting machines also result in savings in election setup, machine moving expenses, staff overtime, and election worker salaries.
Voters in Kansas have three different voting options. The Election Office projects the costs of these options in 2004 will be:
- Advance voting by mail - $2.30 per vote
- Voting in person in advance or on Election Day - $1.28 per vote
You can help save County tax dollars (almost two dollars to one) by voting in person when possible!!
Spring 2004 elections
Primary Election, March 2
General Election, April 6
Fall 2004 elections
Primary Election, August 3
General Election, November 2
Spring 2005 elections
Primary Election, March 1
General Election, April 5
NOTE: Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Presidential Election Day, polling places are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you choose to vote at the polls on Presidential Election Day, there may be long lines 6 to 8 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.
Advance Voting in Person Registered voters have the option to cast their vote early at one of the following satellite sites:
Johnson County Election Office, 2101 E. Kansas City Road, Olathe Monday
- Friday - 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Saturdays - 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Closes the Monday prior to the election at noon.
*Johnson County Northeast Offices, 6000 Lamar Monday - Friday -
11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Saturdays - 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Closes the Saturday prior to the election at 5 p.m.
*Johnson County Wastewater Administrative Offices, 7311 W. 130, Overland
Park Monday - Friday - 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Saturdays - 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Closes the Saturday prior to the election at 5 p.m.
* Only open for advance voting during the August and November elections.
Nationally, fewer than one in five 18-24- year-olds have voted in recent years. To help reverse that trend in Johnson County, the Election Office is engaging elementary, secondary, and college students in the election process, educating them and helping them realize that their vote counts. In the 1996 November General Election, 9,451 Johnson Countians between the ages of 18 and 24 voted. Four years later in 2000, voters in that traditionally low-voting age group numbered 12,239. The figures attest to the effectiveness of the Election Office's ambitious Student Outreach Program, and projections are that the number of 18- to 24-year old voters in Johnson County will increase still more in 2004. Through the Youth Outreach Program, thousands of students create and post signs reminding people to vote. They circulate flyers door to door, participate in mock elections, operate the new voting machines, her presentations made by Election Office staff, and tour the Election Office.
Voting among 18-24 year olds
9,451 voted in 1996
12,239 voted in 2000
"Today I've come to more fully recognize the beauty of the democracy that exists in the United States of America. I'm one proud man! This is not pride of oneself, or of our country's majesty, our technologies, our corporations, or other more superficial and visible features. Rather, I'm proud of our election process and the people who carry out this fundamental freedom. These people are made up of men and women, young and old, people of all walks, who take part in a process that secured our on-going democracy. They are Gene and Sharon and countless others whose names I cannot remember, but whose actions will last. They come early in the morning, usually waking well before 5:00 a.m. and leaving well past 7:00 p.m. For this day, they don't charge a hill or secure a ridge; instead, they become involved in the election process. This is the very marrow of our democracy and the very reason why hills are charged, ridges secured and terrorism attacked. These individuals comprise our retired community, our young, our corporations, our schools and our government. More importantly, they're one of our country's most valuable resources. These thoughts funnel through my mind as I drive home after being part of the election process in Johnson County, KS, U.S.A. …With all of our imperfections, this democracy is strong due to the many humble people I've seen throughout this election. My eyes are more fully opened today to the power of our freedom as defined by the simple process of our elections and the people who make them a reality." Mark Andrasik, Leawood
"I voted today, and after many elections of voting, this was the first time I felt secure in what I was doing, how I was doing it, and in reviewing what I'd done. Your new system…is outstanding." M.A. McKelvy
"Your ideas for voter outreach community involvement are fantastic! I have visited many web sites for many election officers … and your ideas are the most innovative." Katrina Golden, Oregon Secretary of State Office.
"I commend the Johnson County Election Office on every aspect of this election…" Johnson County Voter.
Elections like those in Johnson County, which earn national recognition for excellence, don't just happen. They take a community effort - election workers, schools, corporations, individual citizens and organizations.
In Johnson County, more than 2,000 election workers attend 63 training sessions - more than half of whom were trained in just three weeks to handle the new voting system in time for the fall elections. Practice Makes Perfect sessions provided hands-on rehearsals for 293 workers.
Twenty-eight county and city IT staff volunteered their time to help open and close voting locations. State, county and city offices provided voter registration services.
In November, 150 students from 15 area high schools served at the polls as election workers. High schools encourage older students to work at the polls.
Churches, business, organizations, school, and city and county offices offer their building for voting locations.
Many organizations are taking advantage of a fund-raising program, Adopt a Polling place. Through this program organizations recruit members to work at the polls on Election Day and donate their earnings to their group or a favorite charity.
Share your day…and your pay!
In fall 2002, students) ages 16 to 18) represented 12.4 percent of election workers.
The largest age category was senior adults, especially those 60 to 69 (28%) and 70 to 79 (36%).
Four percent of the workers were 80 or older!
Female election workers outnumbered male workers by not quite 2 to 1.
Elections workers receive compensation for their efforts and will receive a long-deserved raise this year.
"The two students were exceptionally helpful and capable. Each of them could handle any of the functions of the voting process capably and very willingly. We would have had significant difficulty without them." Veteran election worker
"The young man assigned to my location was great. Eager to learn. He put the outdoor signs and flags up without being told. He told us he had joined the Marines and would be leaving shortly after graduation."Veteran Election Worker
"I loved working the election! I believe that the current system works great, and I would like to congratulate everyone at the Election Office for designing such a great system."Student worker
Last Updated: March 10, 2010 11:31 AM