By Wendy Underhill
NCSL likes to be the first to have the news about state elections. Presidential and congressional results? Others have those races amply covered. But for news from the states, NCSL is tops.
By far the most interesting part of a general election, for us, is what’s happening in legislatures—who’s new to our “family,” where political winds shifted directions, which of our legislative leaders are moving on or moving up, that kind of thing.
And most importantly, who will be making policies to solve America’s problems. We care lots about governors’ races, too—they’re the constant negotiating partner for lawmakers, no matter if they’re of the same party or not. And we care, too, about statewide ballot measures because they tell us something about which issues are hot and which are not.
For nearly three decades NCSLers—including our executive director, Tim Storey—have stayed up literally all night so that early on Wednesday morning we could provide our members with a 50-state perspective on what happened. This year we’ll be at it again, with a twist.
In the past, we’ve gathered in our conference room with lots of pizza, fruit, Coke and Pepsi (we’re not only bipartisan, we’re bi-cola as well), leftover Halloween candy and lots and lots of chips. Thanks to the pandemic, we’ve had to make a new plan.
First, we’ll order pizza to be delivered to the homes of the election night team.
Next, we’ll get connected over Microsoft Teams so we can live chat as we work. Each of us will bookmark the election results webpages for our assigned states, although it’s likely we’ll get news from Twitter and our friends in state capitols first and use the state webpages to verify.
Until the wee hours of the morning (at least, wee on the East Coast) we’ll be posting the news in a running blog: who’s won, who’s lost, what chambers are too close to call, how our executive committee officers have fared and what’s going on from the administrative point of view.
When we’re stuck on what’s happening, we’ll reach out to our friends in the states—legislative leaders, clerks, secretaries, staff directors and chiefs of staff. These are the first with the skinny and the best with background.
On an adjacent track, Amanda Zoch, NCSL’s expert on statewide ballot measures, and Karmen Hansen, NCSL’s marijuana expert and beloved liaison to North Dakota, will be keeping tabs on the 124 questions voters will be answering this year. They, too, will be posting news all evening and into the next day, and also updating NCSL’s comprehensive statewide ballot measures database.
The minute we know anything, we’ll share it with you on our blog and on the new State Elections 2020 webpage. The webpage is deep with pre-election analysis now, but at 4 p.m. E.T. on Tuesday, it will shift to post-election analysis.
If you’re up and want to talk or text—or have a story to share, please be in touch! Text, email or call!
Wendy Underhill is the director of elections and redistricting at NCSL.