This past Tuesday marked a new experience in reporting for me: fast elections.
I’d gotten a taste of it with the in September. When the unofficial results showed Daryl Finizio with a significant lead over Michael Buscetto III, the candidates got a head start on their speeches and post-announcement get-togethers. A freelancer was on hand to capture these, while I waited for the official results. By the time these came in—and confirmed the same result with different numbers—the candidates and their supporters had long since abandoned their headquarters.
It was quite a difference from the admittedly humdrum election coverage I’d previously done at the bureau of a newspaper. The most significant one I took part in was in 2008, where I summarized a few local races while collecting overall results from towns across a couple of counties. I think they say Maine is one of those slow living places, which might explain why some towns boasting maybe 100 voters took until nearly midnight to fax in their numbers. From about the time Barack Obama was confirmed as President to 2 a.m., election coverage was more a matter of sitting around and firing off the occasional e-mail with a few figures to the main office.
The New London race was a different can of worms entirely. Six candidates for mayor, three political headquarters with people in various races, a hot-button referendum issue…it was a fairly overwhelming prospect. Preparing for the election became reminiscent of my preparations for : charge up the laptop and phone, pre-write as much of each article as possible, and wait for the rush of information.
For all the suggestions that the results might be a long time coming, they were just about as rapid in arriving as the primary numbers had been. At the Republican headquarters, the numbers from each district arrived within minutes of each other and were tabulated on an oversized ballot printout. Within minutes of that, Rob Pero’s concession speech. And almost immediately after that, the exodus to the after-party at . From there, it was a scramble to the Democratic headquarters, trying to catch a few people before they left for their own celebration.
I’d be extremely remiss to leave out Jayne Keedle and Jessie King from this account. Both of them did their own mad scrambles, sending along photos and quotes and other information as they covered the Buscetto and Finizio campaign headquarters and interviewed or made a few calls to other candidates. Each of them worked tirelessly to get reactions and send along quotes and photos, and the coverage would have been far more destitute without their help.
Unlike 2008, this election had a far more dramatic ending. Along with a few other members of the media, I waited for the last tally from absentee ballots to decide the too-close-to-call referendum question on and the Board of Education race. And despite the fairly quick tally of most of the results it was, like 2008, a late night. By the time I posted the last article on the site, it was about 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
It was about that time that I realized I’d had no coffee or caffeine throughout the day and had been working with various degrees of intensity for some 17 hours. It only comes one night a year, for which I’m glad, but Election Day is always a blast.