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Editors will view 2020 vote as ‘election week’

DOVER — Notes and quotes between headlines and deadlines …

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As we approach Nov. 3, it is growing more and more evident that we will not be able to put together a front page with a bold headline naming the winner of the presidential election on Election Day.

The Associated Press and other experienced news organizations note that there is too much in play for this to happen.

“There’s a lot of chatter that we should be thinking about ‘election week,’” said Associated Press Deputy Managing Editor David Scott during a session with members Thursday.

Mr. Scott said the Associated Press has found in a recent survey that 54% of the vote will be in advance of Election Day.

That includes mail-in voting, absentee voting and in-person absentee voting around the country.

Delaware is among 13 states that send applications for absentee ballots to all voters. Nine states and the District of Columbia automatically mail ballots to voters.

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Reflecting on election news history, it is interesting to note that the Associated Press has called presidential races on Election Day five times since 1992.

The AP did not call the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000.

And in 2016, the AP did not declare Donald Trump the winner until about 2:30 a.m.

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For those of us on news deadlines, there was quite a bit of nail-biting on the night of the state’s primary election.

The state Department of Elections had announced results from 420 districts by 11 p.m. and 433 of the 436 districts by 11:15. It was after midnight when the final districts came in.

One of the immediate things we noticed when the results were first being posted was the extraordinary number of absentee votes — about 63,000 in the Democratic primary and about 12,500 in the Republican primary.

Also, we began to see that absentee votes were not a true early indication of the outcome, particularly in the GOP’s U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races.

When the numbers first went up, it showed Jim DeMartino had nearly 2,300 more votes than Lauren Witzke, the eventual winner. At the polls, she had 10,000 more than the party’s endorsed candidate.

In the Republican contest for governor, longtime state Sen. Colin Bonini had a lead of more than 800 in absentee votes. But political newcomer Julianne Murray topped him in the polls.

Overall, the big difference in the Bonini-Murray battle was in her home county of Sussex, a Republican hotbed. The lawyer from Seaford received 6,017 more votes in the lower county than Sen. Bonini did.

Sen. Bonini received more votes in his home county of Kent and in New Castle.

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One of the quotes of the week comes from Delaware Department of Education Secretary Susan Bunting during Thursday’s state board meeting.

While the board debated the return of fall sports and possible equity issues, it was noted that individual districts may opt out of participation.

Secretary Bunting said her experience on local school boards led her to think it would be a hot topic.

“You can play your next meeting at Yankee Stadium,” she said.

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Today marks the 195th day since the first coronavirus case was announced in Delaware.

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Last Monday, the Delaware State News celebrated its 67th anniversary as the “First Daily in the Capital of the First State.”

It was Sept. 14, 1953, that Jack Smyth published the first daily edition of the newspaper. We are proud to continue the same brand of honest journalism that Mr. Smyth promised.

And, for me, Monday also marked my 30th anniversary with the Delaware State News.

So much has changed during that time. I miss the flurry of activity in the paste-up area that we had in 1990. Indeed, it has been a long time since I found a waxed paragraph on the bottom of my shoe. When something did not fit, a sharp X-ACTO knife would be used to eliminate it, and somehow, the discarded bit always ended up on the floor.

It only takes a few computer keystrokes now to make such edits for the print edition.

But, on the flip side, is that sometimes a writer’s precious words might still get published in the online version.

Thank you to our readers, whether faithful or casual, for turning to us through the years.

Today’s readers require more options.

We now enjoy seeing many people reading content at DelawareStateNews.net on smartphones. And the routes in which they arrive are many — whether directly to the website, prompted by a social media post or enticed to click a link while reading one of our newsletters.

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Speaking of newsletters, we have revamped two for specific community audiences — “Essentially Milford” and “Heart of Sussex.”

On Friday, we launched a new one called “Hitting the Books” to help teachers, readers and parents better understand, discuss and celebrate the successes of returning to school during this pandemic. Education reporter Brooke Schultz is taking the lead on it.

Our sports editor, Andy Walter, will be starting a new “From the Press Box” newsletter, too.

Sign up for these, for free, at DelawareStateNews.net/newsletters.

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