I still remember working my first election night. It was November 1984, and Ronald Reagan was running for his second term. Democrat Booth Gardner was challenging incumbent Gov. John Spellman, and there was an anti-abortion initiative that was drawing a lot of heat.
I was living and working in North Central Washington, and the Associated Press paid me either $50 or $100 (I don’t recall which, but it seemed like a lot) to make collect calls to their data center every 30 minutes with the updated election results from the courthouse. Since I had to be there anyway to write about the 7th Legislative District races, I eagerly accepted.
I felt important. A week or two before the election, the AP sent me instructions, and we held a practice session on a Saturday afternoon. As I recall I had to start off each call by saying “This is a Washington county report from County No. 24, Okanogan County. Reagan… .”
I stayed at my post until a deputy sheriff delivered the ballot boxes from Chesaw and Nighthawk, and the last votes of the night were counted.
It all sounds so last century, so I was interested to read how the Associated Press is covering this year’s election. Sally Buzbee, the AP’s executive editor, recently wrote about this year’s efforts for Nieman Reports, an academic journal.