Earlier this year I took an opportunity that was presented by a former staff member of EWU, to work for the Associated Press in Spokane, on Super Tuesday.
I at first reluctantly went to the practice-run they had the Monday before.
Keep in mind, I have never heard any details of what I would exactly be doing for 12 straight hours.
I was skeptical at first. Partly because I had to pay to park there, and partly because the two students on the elevator with me were in suits, and I was wearing a near-faded black t-shirt, with little letters of red and white that spelled out: ‘EWU Intramural Champions’.
They both turned and smiled at the intramural champion and asked, “have they finally fixed those s**** fire alarms in Dressler?”
Both would assure me that working here on Super Tuesday would be hell. But, alas would also be a great experience. It turned out that they were both law students at Gonzaga University that were studying constitutional law. I suspect they were both Frank Underwood fanboys.
I arrived at around 20 minutes before game time the following day.
“The entire seventh floor was crammed with over 200 workers.” -Randle Kinswa, Co-Managing Editor/Sports Editor
I had packed three bags of Lays potato chips, two 20 oz. redbulls, a bag of Reeces, and a couple grapefruits. I had been told by multiple veterans of the process that Super Tuesday would be a long night. So I packed for a long night.
Right when I entered the elevator before going up to the seventh floor, I anticipated what league of worker I would be placed in.
There was the major league of workers and the minor league of workers. The majors took direct calls from AP workers scattered around the various active precincts in the states that were active on Super Tuesday.
The minor league of voters took the direct results from the precincts websites.
As being relatively new to this, I was a minor leaguer.
There were only around 20 people at practice the night before. But now, the entire seventh floor was crammed with over 200 workers.
Only 12 were full-time AP employees. The rest were, a bit like myself. Part-time workers who could really use just a bit of cash flow. Most of the part-time workers were in college or just out of college.
When I finally arrived at my station, there were two monitors that displayed the counting software the AP uses, and showed what precincts I would be in sole responsibility for.
The precincts I was responsible for, were in the rural areas of Colorado, and many of the coastal counties in North Carolina.
The floor had been relatively quiet and peaceful up until recently, but once the floodgates opened up at 4 p.m., the chaos ensued.
I started to work on the precincts that were nearing the end of their count. Once the precincts had reported 100% of their ballots, I would then tell one of the ten supervisors, that this particular precinct was finished.
The final results would be then sent to the AP’s HQ in New York.
There the AP would then send the results they are getting back from all of their regional branches, to CNN, MSNBC, FOXNEWS, and other corporate media conglomerates.
Precinct-by-precinct I typed in the number of votes for every member who had gotten on the ballot on Super Tuesday. You may know the last names of Biden, Butegieg, Warren, Sanders, Harris, Gabbard, Yang and Bloomberg. However I bet you haven’t heard the names of De La Fuente, Blankenship, or Vermin Supreme, when it comes to presidential candidates.
Yes, there were people who voted for everyone that was on the ticket. There were over 25 people who had their name on the ballot for the presidency.
Click, click, click. That was my life for hours upon hours. Numbers upon numbers. 250 for Warren, 454 for Bernie, 211 for Biden, 376 for Harris.
Numbers became my second language.
“I was participating in one of our most sacred traditions. The right to vote for one’s representatives.” -Randle Kinswa, Co-Managing Editor/Sports Editor
By the fifth hour of working many of my precincts began to close. I had relatively easy precincts to report compared to others in my station.
But alas, at around 10 p.m., my supervisor asked me if I would be willing to take some of the precincts in California.
Yet, it didn’t dawn on me until I started working on California. It wasn’t just numbers that I was recording. It was people’s votes.
It finally dawned on me, that it wasn’t just useless numbers that I was typing in for some bum online class, but these numbers actually had meaning.
Regardless if I liked a specific candidate or not, every vote I typed in from then on felt meaningful. That I was participating in one of our most sacred traditions. The right to vote for one’s representatives. One of the building blocks of American history.
I didn’t finish with my California precincts until 3:30 a.m. But it didn’t matter how much I had worked by then, I was just happy enough to be a part of our democratic process.