2005 Election Center Professional Practices
Brian D. Newby, Election Commissioner
Johnson County Election Office
In 2004, the Johnson County Election Office launched a new outreach campaign to increase community involvement in the election process. The original concept was to develop a new poll worker recruitment program. However, it quickly evolved as a vehicle to foster a number of new relationships with corporate and other governmental entities in support of the administration of elections in Johnson County.
The program is called "Partners In Democracy," with the following goals:
- Enlist business support for the election process in Johnson County.
- Obtain additional polling locations, using non-traditional sites provided by businesses.
- Expand the number of election workers to include employees "on loan" from businesses and community organizations.
There were five key highlights of the program as it was implemented for the November 2004 Presidential election.
1. Reece & Nichols Realtors answered our call to the community to provide additional polling places throughout Johnson County. They graciously offered us space in any of their realtor offices that were located in precincts that required additional polling places. On Election Day, we were able to utilize three Reece & Nichols offices. At these locations, the company actually closed their doors to regular business the entire day so that the citizens of Johnson County would have a place to vote within a close proximity of their homes. That was extremely impressive!On November 18, 2004, special recognition was given to these new "Partners" at the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners meeting. Plaques and plaudits were presented to representatives of these organizations by the Election Commissioner.
2. Krispy Kreme Doughnut Company helped us recognize the efforts of very hard working election workers who arrive at the polls at 5 or 6 am and work a very long day of 14 hours. They graciously provided one dozen doughnuts for EVERY polling location in August and November of 2004 for the election workers to enjoy. That's a total of 575 DOZEN doughnuts; or if you prefer, 6,900 doughnuts. Not to mention the many times they dropped by the election office with a couple of dozen "in tow" just to keep our staff energy levels up. Their efforts of support for recognizing the individuals that make the election process happen will be forever remembered. That's A LOT of GOOD doughnuts!
3. Area restaurants (Boardroom Barbeque, Denny's, Leona Yarborough's Family Restaurant, Machine Shed and Old Chicago) allowed us to use one of their private dining rooms as a polling place. These locations were ideal since they are all handicapped accessible and have large parking lots designed to handle a large number of people.
4. City of Overland Park and Johnson County governments allowed their employees to be "reassigned" from their normal job duties to work as election workers at the polls on Election Day.
5. Olathe Police Department came to our rescue when the traffic on Kansas City Road (which runs in front of our office) was backing up further than the eye could see. Their efforts helped keep the traffic flowing smoothly, allowing voters easier access to our very congested parking lot. They were there for us during the entire three week Advance Voting period prior to Election Day, allowing us to process 28,337 voters here at the election office in Olathe. Their efforts certainly helped to curtail a few snarled attitudes of drivers that can happen when traffic is moving slowly. We received many compliments from our voters expressing gratitude for their services!
We look forward to continuing support from these "charter members" of this program, as well as the potential for drawing even more community support and involvement from future participants.
Often, communities promote themselves as great places to live and work. The Partners in Democracy Outreach Program blends "living" with "working," and engaged businesses and other organizations directly into the election process.
Rather than aligning with any candidate or campaign, the organizations provide greater value by helping celebrate and support citizens' rights to vote. The program drives awareness of election activities and allows organizations and their employees to be involved in a service role that benefits the entire community. We expect to expand this program in 2006 to include some of the area's largest employers, including Sprint and Yellow Roadway.
Last Updated: March 10, 2010 11:31 AM