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At least we can run the local results

At least we can run the local results At least we can run the local results

Every “election issue” of our newspaper has a way of bugging me. Because the polls don’t close until 8 p.m. and the results aren’t available until sometime later Tuesday night, we often have to wait until Wednesday morning to do a lot of our writing and even some of our layout.

Our press deadline is 11 a.m. every Wednesday, so we have to cut it pretty close to the wire to get election results in for that week’s edition. This makes me nervous, as it requires a lot of last-minute typing to get all of those numbers into the charts (see page 10), and all of the right words written for the front page.

In a normal week, most of our stories are written — and the photos are taken and edited — by the time we leave the office on Tuesday night, though we almost always have a fair amount of work to do on Wednesday morning before the paper is ready for the printing press downstairs.

Of course, this election seems even crazier, with all the extra absentee ballots coming in ahead of time and all the hubbub about possible voter fraud, voter intimidation, etc. The nice thing is, I trust our local clerks to get the job done, even if the circumstances are a little unusual.

In fact, we here in Wisconsin have plenty of recent experience when it comes to Election Day chaos. Back in April, there were so many 11th-hour court decisions right before the election, it was hard to know if we were actually going to get to vote on time or not. For the first ever, we here at the paper had to wait until the following week just to print the results.

At least we won’t have to wait a week this time around to print local results. Nationwide, though, I’m not so sure about a timely outcome. I’m writing this column at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, four hours before the polls close, and I have very little faith that we will have a clear winner in the presidential election by the time we go to print tomorrow.

If somehow we do, I’ll almost be disappointed. I mean, this is 2020 after all. It seems like we’ve been conditioned to expect reality show rules — never-ending melodrama, ridiculous plot twists and constant, bitter conflict. We’re in the middle of “sweeps week,” and I expect nothing less than a carnival wrapped inside a circus, all of which will be recorded on someone’s smartphone.

I want to say “I can’t wait to get back to normal,” but sometimes it’s hard to remember what normal is. Actually, when it comes to politics, no one can even agree on what normal is anymore. If you believe the rhetoric, people on both sides seem to think the country itself will get swallowed up into the ocean if “the other guy” wins.

This all makes me very happy that no one anywhere expects the Tribune-Phonograph to “call” the election.