As Election Day 2020 nears, and as much as we join most readers in longing for 2021 to get here, we cannot help but think back to the election night 2000.
Remember hanging chads in Florida and the fight for the White House between George W. Bush and Al Gore? It was a contentious mess that took 34 days to sort out and with Gore supporters saying they were robbed.
Fast forward 20 years and it appears we are in a similar situation. It won’t be Florida and its hanging chads that hold up the results. No, this time it’s going to be a multi-state affair.
In case you missed it, the nation has been bogged down in a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 210,000 of its residents. Some businesses closed for a long period of time and, in some cases, altogether. Employers launched plans for telecommuting, with many people still working from home more than a half a year later.
And so it goes that with widespread concerns about the spread of the virus seeped into how America might face challenges in voting. Long lines and COVID-19 are not a good mix, and presidential election years typically bring a higher turnout than off years.
This will be a year of unprecedented mail-in and absentee ballots being cast, and some states do not allow mailed ballots to be opened and counted ahead of Election Day. In short, for all the talk of election fraud and even despite some gaffes in the process already unearthed, fraud is probably not the common denominator that will put the results on hold.
We are already bracing for that to be the case at the Index-Journal, and as much as we would like to publish a front page on Wednesday, Nov. 4 declaring a clear winner in the race between President Trump and Joe Biden, we doubt that will be the case. We don’t even anticipate the vote to be close enough to cause an embarrassing “Dewey defeats Truman” headline the next day; instead, we expect a return to 2000.
That said, we will do our level best to bring readers the results of as many races as possible, with special emphasis placed on the races most affecting our coverage area, from city council to county council, from school board to state House and Senate.
Certainly, we hope to have a handle on some of the bigger national races, including our own battle pitting Jaime Harrison against incumbent U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.
But there comes a time when the presses must roll in order for a newspaper to get into readers’ hands in a timely fashion. Waiting until all results are in is not plausible. And what good is the morning paper if it doesn’t get to readers until midday or, worse, late afternoon?
That’s where our website comes in handy. We will fire up the press by 1:30 a.m. on the morning after the election and deliver the results we have. But if you’re one of those who stays up late to get results, stay with us at indexjournal.com. The Associated Press will have updates and, as needed, a few of us will likely hang back in the newsroom to post results on local races while snacking on day-old cold pizza.