Election Night in America

“Election Night in America”

“Election Night in America,” a phrase that may very well never appear again. We’ve been in the 2020 election cycle for, what feels like four years already, and as each minute ticks by and more votes are counted, so too are lawyers for both sides preparing briefs to dispute results, tabulators, the validity of ballots, and I’m sure to inevitably blame it all on Russia.

The pandemic has made this election wild, but let’s also try to remember that this election was wild long before lockdowns began in America…or at least weeks before. I spent a long 48 hours in Iowa in early February. Looking back on it, after months of lock down, the 48 hours don’t seem so bad, but on February 3rd they dragged on and on and on. I was on my feet on a live news set in Des Moines for more than 20 hours that day. Stupidly, I had worn sneakers with little arch support, but I digress. What should have been a night, tallied and over by 11pm, turned into a 2am wrap for our crew, and we left the convention center without a Caucus winner. Two weeks later I was at a bar in Manchester, New Hampshire, on a set once again awaiting primary votes. This time a winner was determined. However, over the course of the next three days almost all of the crew who worked that evening called out sick for at least one day as a team member had managed to pass a stomach bug onto almost all of us. During all this, we were covering Covid-19, as much as it was at the time something seemingly infecting “other” places, and while some cases had been confirmed in the states they were few and far between. Cut to three weeks later when my job shut down completely because of an outbreak of Covid in the broadcast center.

We have gone on covering the election, “the most important election in history” as we are continually told, we have made our way back to work, with tons of protocols in place, and multiple Covid tests a week, we travel less frequently (no one from my team went to either convention or any debates), and half of our production is being done “from home.” Meanwhile most, if not every, state has enacted some type of mail in voting, absentee ballots, early voting and the like in order to combat crowding at polling places. Here in NJ every single registered voter was sent a mail in ballot….every single registered voter except me apparently. Polling places are limited for tomorrow as we were essentially told by the state that we are expected to vote by mail. My friends in New York have all voted early, many in North Carolina, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, and Texas have done the same. And while all this has been going on, the candidates are preparing lawsuits to contest the election results. Of course, more than 95 million Americans have already voted as I type, but I am not betting on a clear victory for either major party candidate tomorrow night. Many states are allowing votes to be counted up to 7 days late, and yet those of us in the news are still amping up tomorrow as the biggest night in history. We have shiny new sets, more crew, fancier cameras and graphics, all to project that……. “We do not have a winner.”

I’m setting my over/under at Thanksgiving, and I’m taking the over. Don’t forget folks, in 2000 we didn’t have a victor until December and that was because of just ONE state’s faulty voting system. Now we have all 50 states truly doing something they have never done before, and we have wide-ranging possibilities as to what tactics the candidates will engage in to win, a global pandemic, and civil unrest. Tomorrow may be Election Night in America, but this election news cycle, it won’t be over for a long time.

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