Gray Area—Again

Sunshine state clouds another Election Day

As Americans woke Nov. 7 to another four-year term for President Barack Obama, most undoubtedly flipped on the news or logged on to their website of choice to see the ubiquitous U.S. map with the electoral votes broken down. They saw a swath of blue in the Midwest, East Coast and West Coast for Obama, and stretches of red in the country’s midsection and South for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

And there, at the bottom of the map, bathed in the gray shading of the undecided, was Florida. The Sunshine State was still too close to call the day after the election, a situation many blamed on problems that are becoming as much a part of presidential election cycles as attack ads and robocalls.

How is it that the state continues to be the poster child for voting gone awry? In some cases, the snafus are self-made, such as the decision by Gov. Rick Scott to shorten the early voting period from 14 days to eight, while also eliminating the ability to vote on Sundays. While that change maintained a total of 96 hours for citizens to cast their votes, cramming it into a smaller window was cited as a primary reason for waits that lasted as long as six hours.1

Those who eschewed early voting because of the interminable lines didn’t have much better luck on Election Day. In Miami-Dade County, another six-hour wait greeted voters, forcing many polling places to remain open well after the polls officially closed at 7 p.m. At West Kendall Regional Library, for example, the last voter left after 1 a.m.—nearly two hours after Obama was declared the winner.2

Frequently cited as a reason for adding a late-night shift was a 10-page ballot dominated by 11 state constitutional amendment questions posed by the Republican-controlled state legislature. Miami-Dade Election Supervisor Penelope Townsley said it was "the largest in Miami-Dade County history, and that has contributed to the length of time it has taken."3

Not helping matters was a system voters called understaffed, ill-equipped and poorly organized. At the UTD Tower in Brickell, FL, workers had difficulty locating voters’ names in the hard-copy registry, and just two of the eight ballot scanners were functional, meaning only two people could vote at one time. The result was a wait that at times exceeded six hours.4

Granted, Florida wasn’t the only state encountering problems at the polls. In Pennsylvania, a controversial voter ID law the courts had suspended was cited anyway at some polling places, including several that had signs posted that said voters must show ID. Officials said the signs were printed before the law was suspended, and their use was the result of miscommunication.5

In Ohio, voter registries were a sore point at one Columbus location. "There have been a lot of young first-time voters coming in who are very excited to vote, and they’re not in our poll books," said Sarah Biehl, voting location manager at Blackburn Recreation Center.

"They’re not in the rolls. Or they’re in the wrong place. For some of them, the address is incorrect. We’ve had a lot of issues, and it’s not just young people. We had other people who had been voting here for years, and now they’re not in the poll books. And it’s not clear to me why."6

Things were predictably difficult in hurricane-hit New Jersey, where one election official called a last-minute decision to allow email voting a "catastrophe." Traditionally, the state allows only residents who are overseas or serving in the military to request an electronic ballot, but it extended the program to those who were displaced by Hurricane Sandy. Instead, the system was overwhelmed by requests from people who didn’t fall into any of those categories.

Part of the problem was that a county clerk’s office is required to respond to each request. At the Hudson County Clerk’s office, for example, eight workers tried to respond to 3,000 email requests on Election Day.7

Still, despite the troubles, 49 states and Washington, D.C., were color-coded by the end of election night, leaving Florida the only one shaded gray.

"From now on, easy access to the ballot should be the governing principle for elected officials and voting supervisors," proclaimed the Miami Herald editorial board. "Avoid problems. Get more machines. No more long lines. No more interminable delays. No more cries of unfairness and disenfranchisement. No more Flori-duh."8

—Brett Krzykowski, assistant editor


  1. Gary Fineout, "As Fla. Voters Face Long Lines, Scott Stands Firm," Associated Press, Nov. 3, 2012.
  2. Frances Robles, Martha Brannigan and Daniel Chang, "Miami-Dade Will Not Have Full Results Until Wednesday," Miami Herald, Nov. 6, 2012.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Jessica Parks, "Pa.’s New Voter ID Law Causes Confusion, Voters Say," Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 7, 2012.
  6. Greg Gordon and Tony Pugh, "Voters Endure Delays, Lines and Misinformation to Cast Ballots," McClatchy Newspapers, Nov. 6, 2012.
  7. Bob Sullivan, "New Jersey’s Email Voting Suffers Major Glitches, Deadline Extended to Friday," http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/06/14974588-new-jerseys-email-voting-suffers-major-glitches-deadline-extended-to-friday.
  8. Miami Herald Editorial Board, "Two Words: Easy Access," Miami Herald, Nov. 6, 2012.


4 Honored as 2012 Award Recipients

Four organizations from four different categories have been named recipients of the 2012 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

The recipients, announced Nov. 14, include:

  • Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Grand Prairie, TX (manufacturing category).
  • MESA Products Inc., Tulsa, OK (small business category).
  • North Mississippi Health Services, Tupelo, MS (healthcare category).
  • The City of Irving in Texas (nonprofit category).

"The four organizations recognized today with the 2012 Baldrige Award are leaders in the truest sense of the word and role models that others in the health care, nonprofit and business sectors worldwide will strive to emulate," said Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. "They have set the bar high for innovative practices, dynamic management, financial performance, outstanding employee and customer satisfaction, and, most of all, for their unwavering commitment to excellence and proven results."

For the first time this year, Baldrige judges also recognized organizations that excelled in one or more of the Baldrige criteria categories. The three organizations honored include: Maury Regional Medical Center, Columbia, TN (strategic planning and workforce focus categories), Northwest Vista College, San Antonio (leadership and customer focus categories) and PricewaterhouseCoopers Public Sector Practice, McLean, VA (leadership and workforce focus categories).

A ceremony honoring the organizations will take place during the 25th Quest for Excellence Conference April 7-10, 2013, in Baltimore. For more information about the recipients, visit www.nist.gov/baldrige/baldrige_recipients2012.cfm.

Who’s Who in Q

NAME: Stephen N. Luko.

RESIDENCE: Terryville, CT.

EDUCATION: Master’s degree in mathematics from Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

CURRENT JOB: Statistician, product safety and industrial statistics, UTC Aerospace Systems in Windsor Locks, CT.

INTRODUCTION TO QUALITY: Luko said he considers himself fortunate to have been surrounded early in his career by mentors and other professionals who had been involved in quality activities throughout their careers. In addition, he was introduced early to several influential authors, such as Eugene Grant, Richard Leavenworth, Acheson Duncan and W. Edwards Deming. From these thinkers and from his own personal study, Luko learned the importance of quality in all quarters and its ties to his specialty field of statistics.

PREVIOUS QUALITY EXPERIENCE: Over the years, he has taught many industrial short courses on using statistics in engineering and quality applications to engineers and managers. He also has participated on national committees, presented at conferences and taught many college-level courses on math and statistics.

ASQ ACTIVITIES: Luko, a senior member of ASQ, is the education chair of the Hartford Section, a member of International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee 69, and the editor of the reviews of standards and related materials section for Quality Engineering. He is also a certified quality engineer and reliability engineer.

OTHER ACTIVITIES: Luko is a long-time member of American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Committee E11 on quality and statistics. He is also a fellow of ASTM International, the past chair of committee E11 and the recipient of several awards for standards development and writing.

PUBLICATIONS: Luko Has written several technical papers, shorter magazine articles and reviews of standards. Luko also contributed to recent editions of ASTM Manual 7 on presentation of data and control chart analysis.

RECENT AWARDS: He was named a fellow of ASTM International in 2009, ASQ Dorian Shainin Medalist in 2010 and this year’s recipient of the Harold F. Dodge Award from ASTM Committee E11.

PERSONAL: Married for 33 years and has two sons.

FAVORITE WAYS TO RELAX: Reading, walking, classical music and classic movies.

QUALITY QUOTE: Quality and leadership go hand in hand. In quality matters, leadership is about excellence in development, presentation and execution. It is about showing what quality is by providing examples of the thing being produced—whether goods or services. One way people can contribute to quality is by acquiring deep knowledge and experience in their field and by showing superior task execution in that field. Others will see the example. Excellence is quality.


AUTO AWARD Rick Dauch, president and CEO of Accuride Corp., has received the Quality Leader of the Year Award from ASQ’s Automotive Division. The award honors outstanding industry leaders and dedicated volunteers who have made significant contributions to automotive quality. Dauch was recognized for launching a companywide initiative to adopt consistent quality systems and lean manufacturing principles as part of Accuride’s push to deliver more dependable performance for customers. Accuride, based in Evansville, IN, makes steel and aluminum wheels.

DOE WORKSHOP ASQ’s Reliability Division will offer an eight-hour workshop on design of experiments following its annual Reliability and Maintainability Symposium in Orlando. The workshop will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. on Jan. 31 and 8 a.m. to noon on Feb 1. The symposium itself will be held Jan. 28-31. For more on both events, visit www.rams.org.

EXAM DEADLINE March 23 is the deadline to apply for certification exams that will be administered at next year’s ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement. ASQ will offer the 16 certification exams Sunday, May 5, in Indianapolis. For more details, visit http://wcqi.asq.org/certification.html.

ITEA VOLUNTEERS NEEDED The International Team Excellence Awards (ITEA) Committee is looking for ASQ members to volunteer to assist in the ITEA process. Members can become judges or serve on subcommittees that focus on the overall process, training and criteria management. The committee also is looking for individuals with specialized skills in Excel and data analysis. For more information, contact Geetha Balagopal at gbalagopal@asq.org.

HEALTHCARE QUALITY WEBINARS ASQ has released a series of free webinars featuring Baldrige recipients addressing critical healthcare quality topics, including patient safety, innovation, aligning physicians with organizational strategy and customer relationships. The series spotlights best practices from Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) in Detroit, Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, IN, and Southcentral Foundation in Anchorage, AK. All three were recipients of the 2011 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. For more information about the series, visit http://asq.org/hctopics.

MORE LMCs Two new local member communities (LMC) have been formed in Mexico—LMC Querétaro and LMC Chihuahua.


Quality Research Project Begins

ASQ and several high-profile partners and sponsors have embarked on a quality research project to help organizations worldwide benchmark their use of quality tools, methods and processes, and to identify challenges and future opportunities.

The ASQ Global State of Quality Research project will assemble data and case studies, and help organizations compare their own quality processes, programs and resources to other companies within their industry, region and economic sectors. The research plan will encompass data gathered from corporations in at least 16 countries.

Results will be unveiled at ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement in May 2013 in Indianapolis.

ASQ is partnering with the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) to conduct and manage the research and report. To participate in the study, visit www.asq.org/globalresearch.

Word to the Wise

To educate newcomers and refresh practitioners and professionals, QP occasionally features a quality term and definition:

Nagara system

Smooth production flow, ideally one piece at a time, characterized by synchronization (balancing) of production processes and maximum use of available time; includes overlapping of operations where practical. A Nagara production system is one in which seemingly unrelated tasks can be produced simultaneously by the same operator.


Short Runs

THE AMERICAN SOCIETY for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International is now offering a new academic offering for university professors to include technical standards as part of their engineering and business curricula. The ASTM Professor’s Tool Kit contains informational tools to help educators promote awareness of standards in the classroom. For more information, visit www.astmnewsroom.org/default.aspx?pageid=2943.

THE AMERICAN BAR Association (ABA) has become the first not-for-profit organization in the country to be certified for disaster preparedness and response under the Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness (PS-Prep) Program. ABA is the second U.S. business to achieve this distinction. Administered by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency, PS-Prep is a voluntary accreditation and certification program that promotes preparedness standards and best practices for private-sector recovery from natural disasters and other business interruptions. Under an agreement with the DHS, ANAB developed a program to oversee the certification process, manage accreditation, and accredit qualified third parties to carry out certification. For more information, visit www.anab.org/news/2012/10/american-bar-association-earns-ps-prep-certification.aspx.

THE FOOD AND AGRICULTURE Organization of the United Nations and the International Association for Food Protection have signed a pact to share technical and scientific expertise related to food quality and safety. The memorandum of understanding will help the organizations prevent and address the increasing risks related to food safety and quality and their impact on public health and consumer protection. For more about the pact, signed in August, visit www.foodprotection.org/about-us/news-releases/107/two-world-organizations-join-forces-for-food-safety.


LSS Conference Features
50+ Programs, Speakers

More than 50 sessions and hands-on workshops focused on lean and Six Sigma techniques, applications and best practices will be featured at the 13th annual ASQ Lean and Six Sigma Conference slated for March 3-5, 2013, in Phoenix.

In addition to these programs, two keynote speakers are already scheduled to present at the event: Stacy Aaron, a partner at Change Guides LLC in Cincinnati and an expert in the field of organizational change; and Jeffrey Liker, author and a professor of industrial and operations engineering at the University of Michigan.

Watch for more updates on the conference and announcements about other speakers at http://asq.org/conferences/six-sigma.


Higher Quality Service to Patients Can Save Money

Improving the quality of service for patients will make healthcare less expensive, according to a new report released by KPMG Healthcare.

"In today’s healthcare systems, we tend to pay for piecemeal activities, or for a building or an organization. We are paying individual providers that will do their best on a small portion of the work surrounding a patient’s problem," said Mark Britnell, co-author of the report and a partner with KPMG.

"We do not pay for the integration of all these individuals’ activities and efforts, nor do we pay for the results that all this work delivers."

Healthcare systems can deliver better patient outcomes and reduce costs by defining, measuring and rewarding the delivery of quality care, Britnell said.

The report, titled "Contracting Value: Shifting Paradigms," also examines the root causes of suboptimal healthcare around the world and identifies three core principles that can show a clear path to driving value in healthcare systems: Integrated care must be the new unit of payment; meaningful outcomes must be defined and measured; and adding value must be rewarded.

For more information from the report, visit www.kpmg.com/global/en/issuesandinsights/articlespublications/contracting-value/pages/default.aspx.


New ISO Standard Takes on
Cybersecurity Concerns

A newly released International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard will help ensure the safety of online transactions and personal information exchanged over the internet, and protect computers when browsing any websites.

ISO/IEC 27032:2012, Information technology—Security techniques—Guidelines for cybersecurity, provides a framework for information sharing, coordination and incident handling. The standard also will facilitate secure and reliable collaboration, and protect the privacy of individuals everywhere in the world. In this way, the standard can help to prepare, detect, monitor and respond to incidents such as social-engineering attacks, hacking, malicious software, spyware and other unwanted software.

For more information, visit www.iso.org/iso/home/store/catalogue_tc/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=44375.


Sound Advice

This month, listen to a webcast of Max Christian Hansen discussing the results of this year’s QP Salary Survey.

Quick Poll Results

Each month at www.qualityprogress.com, visitors can take an informal survey, and we post the results.

Here are the numbers from a recent Quick Poll:

"What part of your personal life could benefit from a dose of quality?"

  • Managing time more effectively. 46.5%
  • Organizing finances. 25%
  • Maintaining a tidy kitchen. 14.2%
  • Keeping order in the garage. 14.2%

Visit www.qualityprogress.com for the most recent poll question:

"Have quality control issues and supply chain glitches this year changed your view of Apple?"

  • No. I will still buy its products.
  • Not really. All organizations have occasional problems.
  • Somewhat. More problems seem to be cropping up.
  • Yes. I will no longer buy its products.

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