Election night: A reunion of sorts

Ron Spaulding of News Now, Kathy Tretter from Ferdinand News talk while Ty Hunter from WBDC checks his phone while waiting for the election results to be brought out Tuesday evening.

While waiting for the final numbers in the midterm election to be brought out to us, Justin Rumbach, Ty Hunter and I were doing math.

How many votes were outstanding?

Each tray is set on a table near the entrance to the courthouse. As the results come in a clerk places the results in each media company’s tray.

The countywide races like the sheriff’s position were basically accounted for in that number but the paper at the top said we were waiting for nine precincts to report their results. A lot of people were probably wondering about those nine precincts, especially those candidates who had spent the last year campaigning, throwing themselves out into the public eye for the chance to earn a vote.

The numbers already added up though. It really appeared that basically all the votes had been reported.

As we were talking to a deputy clerk, another stack of printed results came out to us. Usually, the results are placed in little trays labeled with the names of the media companies. This time though, maybe realizing the error and knowing we had already reported the final results, the deputy clerk just handed them out to our waiting hands.

I sat down with my wife — I’m not the only one that enlists some help from my spouse, WITZ’s Gene Kuntz usually has his wife along to help as well — and she read the results off to me as a typed furiously into the open post on Facebook. I could hear Ty Hunter reporting live in the background and his voice echoing in the open courthouse first floor was distracting.

Rumbach was realizing that the sheet we had just received confirmed our suspicions that the second to last sheet had contained the final results but were just labeled incorrectly and he came over to where I was typing and told me so.

Besides this little twist caused by a computer and timing, this is how each election ends in Dubois County. We all come together and wait and report and wait and report until the night is over.

Representatives from all the local media, as well as a couple of paid volunteers reporting for the national press organizations like Reuters, meet at the courthouse lobby at about 6 p.m. The radio stations set up live feeds while myself and The Herald open up our laptops and log onto the WiFi to prepare to post results as they come in. A representative from Ferdinand News usually waits to collect the results and notes items of interest in her reporter’s notebook. This year, that was Kathy Tretter, the owner of Ferdinand News.

It’s a couple of hours of respective camaraderie between all the news organizations here in Dubois County.

While we’re waiting, many times we talk about the news, the candidates, movies, sports or whatever else is going on. It’s always pretty amicable in those moments as we wait for the seconds of chaos in which we rush out all of the results.

This year, we started receiving the tabulated results by email because the clerk was worried the printer might stop working (it didn’t) and as we started hearing the beeps and buzzes of those emails coming in every few moments or so someone quipped, “if we can get them by email, we won’t have to come here on election night anymore.”

Kathy Tretter looked around the room at the dozen or so of us. “I hope we don’t stop coming,” she said. “I kinda like getting together each election.”

In regards to the confusion on those nine precincts, the clerk stated the results given out at that time were after the cards for machines used during early voting and during early voting, nine precincts did not receive a single vote. The label at the top of those sheets stated the cards recorded nine precincts as unreported while adding the results from those cards to the total tally. 

Ron Spaulding with News Now shows Justin Rumbach from The Herald photos of his grandchildren and their Halloween costumes while waiting for results to come out Tuesday night.

Shelley Whalen and Linda Trill arrive at the courthouse with the data from the Jasper Middle School polling area. As election volunteers and inspectors arrive at the courthouse after polls close, they take a number from the table as they enter. These numbers indicate the order in which they get to turn their materials over to the clerk. After a long day at the polls, they are ready to head home. Sometimes whoops of joy can be heard when the clerk excuses them after accounting for all the materials and cards.

Julie Fuhs, a 12-year poll volunteer veteran, checks the list confirming she turned in all the materials to the clerk’s office. She and her bipartisan partner must both sign off on the sheet confirming the material was turned over before they can leave.

A machine was removed from service Tuesday when it didn’t operate correctly. It was secured and brought back to the courthouse with the two polling volunteers.

Deputy Clerk Christy Thrasher brings out the paper printouts of results Tuesday evening.

Dubois County Clerk Bridgette Jarboe checks all the materials being returned to her office by the polling volunteers. The packages in her hand hold the red cards that record all the voting information. The machines used for voting are locked up at the polling areas until they can be picked up. In addition to the cards, the voting results are also stored on the ballot machines.

Gene Kuntz paces the floor waiting for results to be brought out. He usually broadcasts live from the courthouse to WITZ and WQKZ.

Democratic Chairman Joe Huddleston watched as the results came in Tuesday evening. He left before the final pages came out and headed over to The Moose where the Democrat candidates were waiting.

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