Oddities of this pandemic-year election

What a surreal election this has been.

And I’m not even talking about the large number of incumbent upsets in local races, the days and days of ballot counting or the public accusations from our president of fraud and attempts to “steal” the election from him.

Yes, civil suits have been filed, with more still to come.

And there is other insanity.

At least one lawsuit filed in Arizona stems from voters’ use of officially issued — wait for it — Sharpie markers that allegedly bled through to the other side of the paper ballot, apparently limiting the Phoenix metro vote tabulation equipment’s ability to accurately record results. Voter Laurie Aguilera says after the ink from the marker bled through the back side of her ballot, poll workers refused her request for a new ballot, The Associated Press reports.

Arizona election officials say voting with a Sharpie would have no impact on votes being recorded by a tabulation machine.

Now, I’m no vote-counting expert, but as our managing editor aptly points out, the mother of any first-grader knows first-hand what happens when you use a Sharpie on paper. I can vouch for that. I’m pretty sure it took me years to get the blue ink marks off my kitchen table.

My unorthodox election night began when I arrived at the office, ready to partake in the traditional newsroom election night buffet — always a highlight, just ask any journalist.

This year, however, it was headed not just by the usual foam plates and plastic cutlery, but also by a box of plastic gloves. Yes, masked and gloved, we passed through the line to pile up our bounty before being dismissed to our socially distanced desks, rather than crowding into the conference room for banter as per usual.

The regular election night meeting, in which the staff does a last-minute huddle to discuss local candidate locations, photography plans with reminders about deadlines and content style issues, was less of a “huddle” and more of an across-the-room shouting match so everyone sitting no closer than 6 feet could hear as we spoke through noise-muffling face masks.

The good news was that local results were tallied quickly — aided in part by speedy release of results from the onslaught of early voting. We were on our way at warp speed.

That is, until, we came to the realization the early votes weren’t nearly a bellwether of the rest of the night’s vote tallies — much like what was being experienced on the national level. That was apparent by the blaring newsroom TVs and Associated Press wire updates indicating wide swings in leads

by Joe Biden and Donald Trump in various


Certainly, many of you, dear readers, also were up late watching the same scenario unfold from your living room couches.

We finally headed out of the newsroom around 3:30 a.m., leaving behind one editor to continue the process of monitoring the presidential race and updating our news website. As per my request, he rang my cell around 6 a.m. with an update.

“No winner yet. Looks like it’s gonna be a while,” he relayed.

And so it goes.

In the days since Election Day craziness, I’m happy to report the heaps of candidate promotional pieces on glossy card stock have stopped clogging my home mailbox.

I have no more “virtual” Zoom interviews scheduled with political candidates seeking this newspaper’s endorsement until at least next March. And while I do love debate and discourse, so far I have not missed the daily phone calls and emails from people berating us for being either way too far left or way too far right in our coverage — usually from different readers referring to the same article.

As I write this on Friday, we still don’t have a winner. I wonder in this digital age and high-tech electronics era how it possibly can take so long to count votes in the few remaining states.

We don’t, after all, have hanging chads anymore.

Ahhh, but we have Sharpies.



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