If a vote falls in the forest, will anyone hear it? | TheUnion.com

If a vote falls in the forest, will anyone hear it?

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,

Gang aft agley,

An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,

For promis’d joy!

– From “To a Mouse,”

by Robert Burns

It was one of the most contentious and most-anticipated elections in Nevada County history. So much was at stake, and news organizations pulled all the stops to cover it.

Live panels of experts stood by at radio stations KNCO and KVMR to analyze the returns. At Foothills Community Access Television, camera crews brought back video of election activity to air between reports of incoming votes.

Here at The Union, we posted live election updates to our Web site, theunion.com, during the day, and had grand plans for multiple stories during the night.

But as the night went on with few results beyond the absentee ballots, all the grand plans – the “promis’d joy” – dissolved into talking heads with nothing to talk about and, in our case, pages filled with national and state news instead of Nevada County winners. As the clock passed our deadline and approached midnight, only a few precincts were reported in the all-important county supervisors races.

Who knows where the wheels fell off? The Nevada County clerk’s office had promised a flow of results starting at 8:45, but at election headquarters and party venues all over town people waited … and waited.

County Clerk-Recorder Lorraine Jewett-Burdick, sounding besieged in a radio interview, explained that the two-page ballot was causing delays in tabulation. Meanwhile, television and radio listeners, one by one, drifted off to bed.

Nothing is more painful to a news organization than not being able to deliver the news. And the handicap the industrial-age nature of ink-on-paper news delivery is never more clear than when the deadline must be met and we can’t deliver. Presses must roll so newspapers can hit the porch by 6 a.m., and folks run off to work.

For now, check http://www.theunion.com for the latest numbers. Meanwhile, we’ll do our best to bring you up to date in The Union tomorrow. For today, however, we have brought forth a mouse.

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