5:20 a.m.: I awake to a high-pitch ringing under my bed I soon find to be my alarm, the very same one I had unintentionally snoozed 20 minutes earlier. As I lay in my warm bed, I contemplate taking the day off and fleeing to any other country that isn’t holding a shit-show election involving an outspoken TV personality and [insert shady, yet fitting, label for the H. Clinton here].
5:26 a.m.: I snap back into reality at the realization that this is the first election in which I am able to cast my own ballot and more importantly, the first election and only presidential election I will be able to cover journalistically whilst in college.
5:30 a.m.: I call my good friend Cassie, the news editor of our student publication, The Daily Eastern News, back because I had missed 8 calls from her within the past 15 minutes.
Nine hours prior to her calling me, Cassie and I had discussed going to the Coles County Courthouse to interview and photograph voters and election judges bright and early.
7:05 a.m.: I pick Cassie up from her apartment, she hands me the French vanilla cappuccino she had promised me and we venture to the courthouse, two eager, young journalists, ready to cover our first presidential election together.
7:11 a.m.: I introduce myself to the election judges and officers in the vicinity, but all they seem to care about is the camera in my hand. They make it a point to tell me I can only take pictures if I get permission from each voter prior to taking the photo.
7:16 a.m.: I make it a point to loudly (or at least loud enough to be heard by those concerned) introduce myself and ask for picture taking permission from two 30-something-year-old men, who were both wearing bright orange sweatshirts as if they had just been hunting.
7:30 a.m.: I speak to the pair of hunter-looking men (who turned out to be brothers) as they are about to leave the courthouse. Both said this was their first year voting, and one even said who he voted for (although I did not ask him to disclose said information because as a newspaper staff, we agreed that would infringe on the voter’s privacy).
8:05 a.m.: Cassie and I finish up, and head back to campus for our morning meeting, which begins at 8:30 a.m.
^This was only the start of my day. As it went on, I visited 3 other polling locations in the area to get an array of Election Day photos. I had specific photo ideas in mind, and while some did not pan out, others did quite well.
One of the ideas I had that went down the drain was the cliche picture of someone putting the iconic “I voted” sticker on their chest.
While it’s a pretty typical photo idea as far as elections go, I still felt like I could get a unique angle or something to make it my own. However, the motion of putting said sticker on one’s shirt is such a rapid one mixed with the fact that I had to ask for permission to take the photo first, made it nearly impossible to get without the photo being completely staged, which would be unethical unless it were a mere photo illustration.
I followed the election on sites and stations such as ABC News, the Chicago Tribune and especially the Washington Post, as the results poured in. Of these three sources, I found the Washington Post to be the most insightful in terms of election results and coverage because the map chart, which shows the states and how each voted, was constantly being updated with statistics that were easy to read and comprehend.