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VIEW FROM THE NEWSROOM: Elections bring the excitement of Christmas for journalists

GuelphToday's Richard Vivian explain the rush of election day for a journalist
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It’s been said election day is like Christmas for journalists, and that certainly holds true from my perspective. It’s the culmination of weeks, if not months, of hype, mixed with increasing anticipation, followed by organized chaos … and then it’s suddenly over.

Though with another minority government in place, we could be back at it again soon. There are also municipal and provincial elections set for next year.

Monday was a long day for those of us in newsrooms, as we worked to not only cover the day’s events as usual, but the unfolding election. Things were relatively quiet in Guelph this time around, though there were some issues with long lines at the Delta Hotel and Conference Centre polling station near the University of Guelph.

I’m told by an Elections Canada spokesperson that wasn’t an isolated incident, but anyone who was in line by 9:30 p.m. was allowed to vote, which holds true with what I observed.

Election day coverage is very much a case of hurry up and wait. Poll results typically trickle in but the victor usually becomes apparent long before all the ballots are counted. 

Such was the case in Guelph, when Liberal incumbent Lloyd Longfield was declared the winner with less than 20 per cent of poll results counted. At that point, he had nearly double the voter support of his nearest competitor, Conservative Ashish Sachan.

Each of us in the GuelphToday newsroom was assigned a different candidate to cover. The task of covering Longfield fell to me.

During elections past, I’ve sat in the middle of a room filled with party supporters who cheer or look to the floor with disappointment as results came in. However, due to the pandemic, it was a different scenario this time around.

There were about a dozen people at Longfield’s campaign office watching as results came in, with a tent set up outside. Cheers erupted shortly before 11 p.m. as news agencies began calling it in Longfield’s favour.

It didn’t take long for the candidate to make an appearance to thank volunteers and take a few questions from media.

Then the rush was back on to sort through my notes, comb through my photos and file an article as quickly as possible, all while poll results kept rolling in. 

That crunch time was the election’s gift to me – I love the rush. The resulting article was my gift to the community. 

Collectively, Canadians got to unwrap a shiny new government, even if many of the faces remain the same. Like a new toy, it will likely provide a brief moment of enjoyment before society gets collectively bored with it and moves onto the next promise of improvement.

When it comes to cleaning up the mess, however, elections aren’t much like Christmas at all. Once all the presents are open and the packaging dismantled in an eager attempt at access, it only takes a few minutes to put all the wrapping paper and boxes into a blue bin to be hauled away.

No doubt most local campaign signs will come down in short order, but if it’s like previous endeavours, it’ll take a couple of weeks before all that visual litter is removed.