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December 18, 2018

The Boring Word About Election Night


May 15, 1985

It’s that time of year again. Next Tuesday voters will go to the polls to select the Democratic and Republican candidates…and later than night when most of the community is thinking of sleep we also go to the polls – to record the results.

As we travel from one polling place to another we will be carrying on a tradition started by our Dad several years ago. In addition to printing information prior to the election, Dad felt our readers should know how each district voted. As a result he decided WE should collect the results and print them.

On the surface the job sounds simple. Drive around to eight locations, record the numbers posted on the doors, go back to the office and print it.

In reality there is a long list to be reviewed before starting out. Travel routes have to be charted (shall we start close to home and work our way out or visa versa?), weather reports checked, and supplies collected. This is not an event to be taken lightly as we discovered the year the car died in White Valley and we had to knock on a door to use a phone at 2:00 am. It reminds me of when my children were young and every trip out of the house meant packing bottles, diapers, toys, food, etc. Only now its pencils, paper, flashlights, coins for pay phones, hot coffee, warm coats and umbrellas.

The flashlights are very important. It’s amazing how centers of activity during the day – schools, libraries, fire halls – can suddenly become dark, isolated islands providing material for active imaginations once night arrives.

Take Sloan School – The results are posted on the back door. Don’t ask me why, but there is not a walkway to that door and not much light either. As we seek out the necessary information we have to walk through the grass (or snow or mud), past the dark woods, and through the building shadows.

Hopefully when we finally reach the door the papers will be there. Twice over the years we have stared at a blank wall. Someone had taken the results home! First you walk around the building checking all the other doors, then you start phoning to find someone who knows the outcome. (If its very late this is a great way to find out who your true friends are). It definitely helps to know the territory. I’m sure more than one person had discovered only one entrance is left open into the school complex. Getting to and from the Intermediate School, where at least the results are on a well-lit front door, it a little like following a maze. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never met anyone there.

The only other major problem is deciphering the results. There are not on a single sheet of paper but pages and pages – all handwritten, fastened to the door or wall by tape, thumbtacks, nails, string and a variety of other methods (Wouldn’t you think there would be a government regulation about that!). There is also no set height at which the lists are posted leading to some bend and stretch at times.

We always make this trip together. Not only for the company but out of necessity. Turning the pages, recording the numbers, holding the flashlight and sometimes an umbrella definitely requires more than two hands. When we finally arrive back in Delmont (Another tradition is that Charlene supplies the refreshments) the calculators are brought out and the real work begins.

A few years ago Dad relinquished his place in the car to me. I wondered how he could give up such adventure, but as another election night draws near, I find myself thinking about my daughter. Fresh from a first year journalism class in college, perhaps she should get a taste of the real world!

GCB

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