One of my favorite non-election blogs is that of marketing guru Seth Godin, who has written numerous books on various aspects of how to succeed in marketing, business and life. I was especially taken with a recent post that discussed the different ways an individual or organization can deal with the need to succeed in the face of uncertainty. In it, he says that accuracy, resilience and denial are three ways to deal with the future. … As I read the post, I couldn’t help but think about the different ways that election officials cope with the uncertainty of turnout and other factors that affect the conduct of elections.
The “accuracy” play involves better forecasting of turnout and other resources on Election Day; done properly, it can ensure that all voters receive a ballot in a timely manner and the results are tabulated and published on a predictable schedule. Experience tells us, however, that predicting turnout and other factors is as difficult as predicting the weather (indeed, it’s often AFFECTED by the weather) and so the risk in relying solely on forecasting is that polls will have either too many or too few resources on Election Day – letting citizens down as voters, taxpayers or both.
Denial, in my opinion, is a reliance on “the way we’ve always done it” or conforming blindly and unquestioningly to the letter of applicable laws and regulations. When this happens, any problems at the polls can be explained away by bad luck or failure of policymakers to change the law.