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All Pinzur, All The Time

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

America Votes... or Naps

I met my wife a few months after the 2002 elections, so this is the first cycle she's seen from inside the reporter/candidate/consultant bubble. Today is Primary Election Day, which is a big deal in Miami this year - in addition to the Democrats and Republicans nominating Senate candidates (the only really major partisan primary in South Florida today) there are lots of nonpartisan local races: Miami-Dade mayor, especially, but also county commission and county school board seats.

Since I cover education, and since the school board is a big deal here, I'll be in the newsroom until the wee hours... which led Lady Pinz to ask what the heck we do all day on Election Day.

You're looking at it.

A handful of reporters are out at polling places, make sure Floridians have figured out the complex science of casting a vote, but most of us are sitting around the newsroom, trying to kill two hours and 18 minutes until the polls close.

By 6:30, things will be busier. About half of us will out with candidates at their post-election parties, and the other half (including yours truly) will be hitting "refresh" on the Elections Department's web site as we wait for votes to be counted. Because I'm covering three different school board races today - any of which could go to a runoff if no candidate gets at least a majority of the votes - I can't even write a bare-bones skeleton of a story until I have some idea who's leading. Most likely, I won't be able to start writing until at least 7 or 8 tonight.

Still, there's something awesomely amazing about seeing a newsroom full of good reporters pull together for those critical few hours, everyone working at peak efficiency to put out the morning paper with results, context and analysis.

Until then, we wait.

I've had coversations today about the following important, headline-making topics:

- Whether one reporter's boyfriend's nickname (FiFi) is appropriate for a man, even if he is French.
- Whether the Bewitched producers thought anyone would notice when they switched Darrens, and the fact that Roseanne's old sitcom made reference to that when they switched Beckys.
- Whether a picture of a giant turtle on a beach belongs on the front page of an early edition.
- Whether "dweeb" is a word. I stole a great piece of trivia from an old West Wing episode, to wit: the only three words in the English language that begin with "dw" are dwarf, dwindle and dwell. But FiFi's girlfriend argued that dweeb is a word, as well.
- Whether Hurricane Frances will mess up our plans to move into our new condo this weekend. This might be the most pointless conversation of all, because (despite all the "tracks" and "predictions" from forecasters) hurricane paths are almost impossible to predict with any reliability this many days in advance.

So I really have very little to do for the next few hours, and then will have to work frantically. My deadline is 11 p.m., which is fine if all the voting machines work well and the margins in each of my three races are fairly large, but could be tight if votes are still being counted in close races by about 9 or 10.

In 2002, there was a problem with a handful of machines from one neighborhood - a handful whose votes were enough to swing one of my school board races. At 2 a.m. - which is about the latest we can make changes and still have them printed in a decent number of papers - we finally had to leave without knowing the winner.

And don't even get me started on 2000. I was the political reporter at the paper in Jacksonville, Florida, then... and the memory is a cold, dark, scary place in the back of my brain.

In the meantime, our pimp motif again emerges, with the Washington Post picking up on the news (posted here on our blog earlier this month) that you can now buy pimp and ho halloween costumes for your kids.


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