Looseleaf Laureate: Elections not as tasty now

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By Terri Likens, Editor

I’ll never forget the first election I covered.
I was a poor reporter, barely making more than minimum wage and trying to get by on it.
Ground zero for election coverage was the courthouse in Pineville, Ky., and Election Day was the highlight of my professional calendar.
The county clerk’s office — and many other contributors — brought in a feast of casseroles, meats, side dishes, snacks and desserts and shared willingly with all.
This was where I had my first blissful tastes of (then) exotic dishes like Mississippi mud cake and death by chocolate.
No matter which side of the political aisle you were on, the spread brought people together, both before and after the election.
Sure, some of the more devout party members jostled, but who can stay mad for long with a bowl of homemade banana pudding before them?
It took hours, it seems, to secure and bring in the voting machines from outlying communities in the Bell County coalfields.
Then it took hours more to count absentee ballots.
Typically, I’d sit around with the election commission until around 1 a.m., when we finally had final, if unofficial, numbers.
The election chairman was a curmudgeonly fellow who chewed tobacco.
That first night, he admonished me not to shoot a picture of him spitting — as if I thought readers would want to see such a thing.
In today’s digital world, most returns come in quickly and late-night stays at the courthouse are unnecessary.
With early voting, the festive feeling of Election Day has also lost some luster.
I did not vote early, and when I rolled in to vote at the Kingston Community Center Tuesday around 9 a.m., I went right on through.
I missed the camaraderie of standing in line with others who believe in preserving democracy by doing their civic duty.
I had the chance to watch the state and national returns roll in at a friend’s house, but I blew it.
Needing a post-work nap, I set the timer on my cellphone for an hour and soundly slept through the alarm.
Technology is good and I love it, even if it sometimes seems to outsmart me.
But forgive me if I sometimes feel wistful over the energy, excitement  — and eats — that went along with those long-ago, hand-counted elections.