[Image courtesy of johnlennon.com]
Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you’re busy making other plans
– John Lennon, Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)
This lyric (especially the second half, which I like to call “Lennon’s Law”) has long been a favorite of mine – and it came to mind recently as I read about the travails of local election officials in Michigan who are dealing with the fallout from the recent sudden resignation of U.S. Rep Thaddeus McCotter.
Here’s the story from Sarah Cwiek at Michigan Public Radio:
City clerks in Thaddeus McCotter’s former Congressional district say his resignation has created a “nightmare” scenario for them.
McCotter’s resignation last week means clerks in suburban Detroit’s 11th Congressional district have to do a lot more work in very little time.
Livonia city clerk Terry Marecki says she was surprised when state officials called the special election to fill what will amount to just a few weeks of McCotter’s remaining term.
“I kept thinking, ‘There is no way they can dump this on us,'” Marecki said.
But city and county clerks will have to pick up both the cost and the burden of the special election–which includes an additional September primary for the remainder of McCotter’s term, and running another special election alongside the regular November general election.
Marecki says now, there all kinds of logistical difficulties to sort out. “We will be collecting [absentee ballots] as we’re sending out the next ballots for the next election,” she said. “So we’ll be running two different kinds of absentee ballots at the same time, which is a nightmare.”
“Running two elections at one time is very, very difficult, and we’re trying to think of all different ways to differentiate the elections.”
Novi city clerk Maryanne Cornelius says she expects many voters to be confused.
“It’s going to take some additional education, because we will have to notify the voters why there are going to be two separate contests for this particular district,” Cornelius said. “And I know we’re gonna get questions from people asking, ‘Why is there a partial term and a full term?'”
Cornelius says she’ll need additional equipment, ballots and staff to run the extra elections. And to top it off, a huge turnout is expected in November because it’s a Presidential election year.
The special elections will cost Livonia, Novi and other cities in the old 11th district (its lines were redrawn after the 2010 census) an estimated $650,000.
Special elections are always a challenge – not just for election officials but also for the voters they serve – but this one merely emphasizes how much they really do happen while election officials are “busy making other plans.”