I was a Democratic Committeeman before you were born. In the old partisan elections we Party Committee people appointed election judges and clerks. Usually five Democrats and five Republicans at each precinct. I did all of the despicable political stuff – even appointing your great-aunt as a clerk because she needed something to do and I wanted to look important with my family.
In those days we counted the votes by hand. The judges and clerks at the polls would count through the day when there was a lull in voter traffic. A party person would count and someone from the other party would mark the count. They checked each other’s work. They stayed at the polls until they completed counting the votes. Then the Republican and the Democratic Precinct Captains would take the ballots and tallies together to the Court House to present to the County Clerk.
Then the hand counting would begin again, with clerks at the Court House adding the precinct totals. The totals were reported to the media and the candidates by precinct. We were able to assess strength based on which precincts had reported. The East Side precincts always went Republican. The north side was mostly Democrat. The South Side was always Democrat.
In big elections the counting would continue into the night. It was great fun. We watched and measured and tallied and predicted. Everyone smoked back then and we all drank beer. The nights were raucous and crazy.
Our County began computerized voting sometime in the 1980’s. What a bore. The County Clerk would offer two counts. One with half the votes counted, and then the final count. The whole affair was over by 9:00 PM.