Last week I wrote about how The Associated Press will be covering Tuesday’s election. They’ll have someone detailed to watch every county in Washington and feed the vote totals into their data center, which in turn feeds their Seattle bureau, which feeds members like us.
While they are doing that, our journalists will focus on our local coverage.
In the 30-plus years I’ve been covering general elections, this one will be unique in that most of us will continue to work remotely. In the past, the newsroom has been bustling on election night, with TVs chattering, phones ringing, reporters and editors talking, and leftover pizza getting colder by the minute. But I’ll be surprised if there are more than a few of us around this year.
Here’s our plan. First, we needed to secure a later deadline. Most Tuesday nights, we put the paper to bed about the time the local election results would be known, so we’ll extend the press start until midnight. That will give us ample time to write about the local election returns, and gives us breathing room in case the presidential race is too close to call right away. A lot of observers think that will be the case, so we might not even have a winner by midnight. But we can’t go later, or you wouldn’t get your paper on time Wednesday morning.
With that uncertainty in mind, News Editor Merridee Hanson told me she’ll do a front page layout that can be easily switched to portray either President Donald Trump or Joe Biden as the winner, or show photos of each man with a headline and story indicating that the race was too close to call at press time.
We’ll also run the Congress balance-of-power story on the front page, along with the Jaime Herrera Beutler-Carolyn Long congressional rematch and the closest state race (I am guessing it will be Referendum 90, regarding sex-ed curriculum).