Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Memories of Elections Past

Today is my second national election in a row where I'll have nothing to do but watch the returns. Like an old, retired dog who sees everyone getting ready for the hunt, that's what today's like for me as a former reporter who only has voting to look forward to today.

Of course I spent a bunch of those elections in Texas where the results are about as preordained as those in the District, but it was exciting nonetheless.

Election Day is a day reporters look forward to in the same way my 4-year-old niece looks forward to Christmas and her birthday. Unlike Christmas though, we generally slept in on Election Day and headed into work around 2 p.m. so we'd be fresh when the tallies started rolling in after the polls closed. The time between coming in and the first returns was generally spent calling the candidates and making sure you had a good number for when you called them later on in the evening.

The losers' quotes were often the best, if they answered.

Your stories were already written, generally. This was done to get a jump on the game, but I'll never forget the time when the mayor's race in Vidor, Texas, (one of the towns I covered) ended up in a tie. Something like 437 votes for each guy. That wasn't nearly as weird as the fact that the town next to it, Pine Forest, also had a tied mayor's race (73 each or something like that).

Or something like that. It was late by the time we got the returns and time has fogged the memory.

Never let it be said small-town politics are boring. Those were the races we lived for: local and full of emotion.

There'll be a lot of emotion tonight, but on a much grander scale -- and a part of me wishes I could be part of the experience. For just one night, I could be back in that newsroom watching the clock tick down and then, as the polls closed, hit the phones and badger the county clerks until they gave me the numbers. Hammer the story out with my editor hovering over everyone's shoulders seemingly at once demanding more words.



Oh well, at least I'll get a good night's sleep tonight.

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