Engaging and educational! That’s what I would call a sudden opportunity to help cover the midterm elections for Albuquerque Public Radio, KANW-FM. Although I’ve been a conscientious voter since I first registered, this was the first time I’ve had any active participation in the backside of the process, and it was truly interesting to find out what I didn’t know, namely, what actually happens after votes are cast and who is involved in the process. I was sent by KANW, the Albuquerque Public Schools radio station, to the Albuquerque City Council Chambers to monitor the precinct counts as they were posted. A computer glitch held up the flow of information for a bit, frustrating both the County Clerk, who had a reputation to uphold, and those from the media and citizenry who wanted the early and absentee numbers as soon as they were available. I sat next to the county IT specialist who patiently went from monitor to hard-drive repeatedly until he was able to repair the web link; I’m sure he went home feeling he had done his job! The Sheriff’s Department came back and forth escorting the precinct deliveries, which arrived every ten minutes or so until all 424 precincts were tallied. The county staff was arrayed at the city council’s horseshoe desk, and precinct reports moved swiftly from person to person, as the procedure for posting progressed. Despite the heavy reliance on technology, it was nonetheless touching to see that at the end of the line, the last staffer was calmly and patiently organizing the precinct reports disks numerically in a cardboard box, as humble and old-fashioned as that may seem.

TV reporters scurried in the background monitoring the reports from their stations and then going live with news as it broke. Local pols, easily identified by their impeccably monochromatic business suits, congregated together, stopping every quarter hour or so to stare at the big screen as the numbers updated. Interested citizens were few, but they were there too. Everything was conducted in a convivial and non-partisan atmosphere, which was encouraging to note.

Yours truly left close to midnight with seven precincts left to report, but with the critical races called and concession speeches and victory celebrations underway. As a Santa Fe local, I’ll look for opportunity closer to home next time, but this experience ensures that when the next election rolls around, I will be more knowledgeable and ready to be involved, beyond just casting my vote – and I wish the same for you!