Hours before the polls close, some voters are already planning how and where they’ll watch the returns tonight. Others say they’re going to shun the whole spectacle.
Mike McCord, a former University of Georgia faculty member, will meet up with college friends and then cross the state line into Alabama to sit in front of a flickering screen.
“I’m planning to watch the election returns with some friends in the western part of the state in Wedowee, Alabama,” he said. “I’ll be traveling over there hopefully by the mid-afternoon.”
Early this morning he was casting his vote at Whit Davis Elementary, polling place for precincts 1C and 1D. He took into account the whole endless campaign, beginning with the primaries and lasting until now.
“The character of each of the candidates became more and more exposed through the election process,” he said. Two years of travel and speeches is stressful, and the 24/7 news cycle has turned up the heat.
His primary concern is the welfare of the United States, which to him hinges on issues related to diversity, jobs, safe environments, police forces, and local control of schools.
“You’ve got all of those issues rolled into one and it’s hard to find a single candidate who’s going to cover all of it and not be partial to private interest,” he said.
While McCord and his pals are toggling between one network news team and another, some people will be treating Election Day like any other night.
John Johnson, 58, plans to avoid watching the news until Wednesday morning.
“I read the news this morning when I got up, and I’m not going to read the news or listen to it for the rest of the day. I’m just going to wait until morning,” he said.
“It’s just too much of a tug-and-war on your emotions,” he said, “and no matter how you feel about it, if you vote, you did what you could and it’s not going to make any difference whether I listen to all the blabber all day long or just wake up tomorrow morning and look it up.”
Johnson is frustrated with the tactics that the candidates have resorted to as the election has worn on.
“I’m sick and tired of politicians not sticking to the issues and going and digging up dirt on each other,” he said.
Georgi Austin, 45, has no plans to watch the returns tonight either.
“I’m not too happy with this year’s election, but I’m going to vote. I’ve weighed both sides.”
Jobs and the price of gas are among the economic issues driving her choices at the polls.
“When I go to the pump, I don’t want to have to make life decisions,” Austin said.
She doesn’t care about the mudslinging by candidates.
“Mainly what they’re going to do for the everyday working person is the most important thing. The stuff between them, I don’t really care about,” she said. “Calling people out and stuff like that. What’s your track record as far as doing for others?”
She has no plans to watch the returns.
“We vote. We let it go, then the next day, we live with whatever decision the country made.”
This story was written while I pursued my master’s degree at the University of Georgia. We covered the presidential election, which included writing stories for web and print, and producing videos.
Publication: Online Athens / November 8th, 2016