To be honest, I would have preferred to have written today's column about pretty much anything but elections.
But, considering Tuesday is Election Day, that just wouldn't be right, would it?
Now, let's be clear right up front, I won't be using this column space today to endorse any candidates. You see, as a lowly reporter, I'm not allowed to have opinions about such things. I just write the stories, as fairly as I possibly can.
OK fine. I will throw my mighty support behind one candidate: Norval Davis, who is an unopposed petition candidate running for Greenwood County soil commissioner. Norval, you hereby have my endorsement. May its power carry you forth to many years of being Lord of the Soil.
Election years are always extremely busy for reporters. This year has been no different. The last month has been particularly stressful here at 610 Phoenix Street, as we've doubled down on local election coverage.
By the time Tuesday rolls around, the paper will have published more than 60 bylined stories in the last three weeks about Lakelands-area elections. This is, of course, in addition to the dozens and dozens of stories Index staff members produced in advance of the June primaries and all of the stories we wrote about this summer's God-forsaken statement of economic interest ballot controversy.
(A ballot controversy which benefited exactly no one, I might add. Well, except lawyers.)
So, if someone ever approaches you and says, "The Index-Journal failed to provide advance coverage of local elections in 2012," that person is a liar.
However, if they were to approach you and say, "Index-Journal reporter Frank Bumb is an Ohio State University football fan," sadly, they would be telling the truth. But we're working on him, y'all, I promise. By next fall we'll have young Mr. Bumb eating mustard-based barbecue, debating the merits of the SEC vs. the ACC and removing his hat before speaking of Bear Bryant.
WITH THE MAJORITY OF THE pre-election coverage behind us, the I-J staff is now turning our attention to the most dreaded - but also, strangely, most anticipated - night of the year: Election night.
Oh, election night, how I've missed you ... and also loathe you. There is not a night in a reporter's year that gives them more of an adrenaline rush, while at the same time making them long for the cold, inviting bosom of the grave.
Now, the daytime hours on most election days are generally unexciting for print reporters. It's a lot of "hurry up and wait." Now, sometimes candidates will do something to spice things up, such as file a police report accusing their opponent of allegedly destroying their campaign signs.
During the primary season, someone was even kind enough to steal one of a candidate's campaign sign, scrawl "Cris (sic) Trainor U go boy!!!" on it in black marker and plant it the front yard here at the Index, where it was discovered by those arriving to work on the morning of election day.
While the daytime hours are usually fairly standard, when the sun goes down and Election Day turns to election night, things start to heat up. About 40 minutes after the polls close, you can see the numbers start to come in on the Greenwood County website.
As a reporter covering various races, you get antsy as the precincts start rolling in and the numbers begin to take shape. The minute all of the unofficial numbers are added up, you'll have to start making phone calls to the winners and losers.
This is a tough balancing act. For one, by the time all the poll numbers are in, it's often very late in the evening and deadline is looming large. Secondly, getting candidates on the phone for comments can be ... interesting.
It's not easy interviewing someone who has just lost a race, one they've poured months of their life and, potentially, thousands of their dollars into. Some take the loss better than others. Almost all, in my experience, have been gracious enough to provide comment.
Winners of political races can be just as difficult to track down on election night. There have been many times on election night when I've had to run to my car and peel out across town to a restaurant, bar, country club or even a candidate's house to pull him out of a victory party and grab a couple quotes. Gotta have comments from the winners, after all.
By now, surely most of you know who you are voting for Tuesday, on the national and local levels. If, for whatever reason, you are still unsure who to vote for in some of the more noteworthy local races, flip over to today's special election section and check out the candidate questionnaires that are featured. Also, you can log onto www.indexjournal.com and find even more candidate questionnaires for local races. The additional questionnaires also will be linked on the Index-Journal's Facebook page.
For all the voters out there, you've read the stories, seen the commercials, had the mailers jammed in your mailboxes. You've heard the soundbites, met some of the candidates, done your homework.
Tuesday's almost here. Now it's up to you.
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-5650; email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.