Well, it was a big night for democracy. I kept reading about how interest nationwide was fairly low, but here in Washington County we had the heaviest midterm turnout ever: 55,000 of 115,000 registered voters. With enthusiasm and excitement high, we should have known there would be problems counting all of those votes.
The warning signs came early for the crowd of local politicians, reporters and other observers waiting in the county courthouse as the counting machines shuffled through stacks of ballots. We expected a preliminary tally from early and absentee votes around 8 p.m.; it never came. Soon it was 10 p.m., and the election officials said we’d get some results at 11. Then it was midnight.
The fellow on the left, Pete Loris, is the chairman of the county election commission and gave us the occasional updates. All of the focus was on him. He told us about the problem: Essentially, a slight glitch on the first day of early voting meant officials had to individually enter in more than 800 votes. I’ve got a full story about it in tomorrow’s paper.
Our editor sent us home at 2 a.m. with only partial results. Final results came about an hour later, more than three hours later than we hoped and needed for today’s paper. But we had everything ready for online! There’s a nice little vignette for you of what’s going on in journalism today.
Good thing we had that most treasured of Election Night traditions, newsroom pizza.
Whatever you thought of the election’s results, just keep an eye on what the people we give power do with it.
Thanks for looking!