The highs and lows of the election count (secretly we love it)

The highs and lows of the election count (secretly we love it)

The day of the count, to be held in the Bush Hotel this year, will no doubt throw up some surprises

This Friday is D-Day for all our candidates in the upcoming local and European elections. The last few days have seen a frenzy of activity as they try and squeeze in as much as possible as the clock winds down.
But all they can do come Thursday night is let the chips fall where they may.
It always amazes me the amount of people who go forward for elections.
It's not an easy task. You leave yourself open to much criticism - some of it good and some of it bad.
It's not an easy decision to make. It involves a whole family and takes a great deal of conviction in one's beliefs and energy to undertake the campaign trail.
Family, relatives and friends are all dragged into the campaign, whether they want to or not.
Generally, they are met with a fairly good reception on the doorsteps but there have been cases where the anger of the constituents becomes very obvious and for some a quick getaway if the only choice on offer.
And people are angry over a myriad of issues.
There are the roads, local lanes, health, crime, broadband, education... the list goes on and on.
Promises have been made but I don't think anyone will be holding their breath to see will they all come to fruition.
And then there is the count on Saturday.
This year the Bush Hotel will be election central as counting of the votes begins - however first of all they have to separate the local, European and divorce referendum votes.
So don't expect quick results on the day.
The count is a unique beast. Some journalists claim to dread the day as it extends into the early hours of the morning, but secretly I think some of us really enjoy it.
After months of following the action we get to be among the first people to find out the winners and losers on the day.
It is an event that is full of predictions, statistics, permutations and basic guess work (if I'm to be honest).
As the first tally figures come to light, people begin to start assessing where each candidate stands, what they need in order to gain or retain a seat, the in-depth analysis of where they failed or gained in each voting centre.... the analysis goes on and on and on.
And then there are the novices, those who are at a count for the first time but take on the mantle of the expert.
You cannot but hear them pontificate about the results (even when only a small percentage have come to light).
They will be steadfast in their view that their chosen candidate can do it when there is not a chance in hell of them getting a seat.
It does provide some amusement during the lull that is between the tally figures and the first count but sometimes it is better to keep your opinion to yourself especially if you really don't know what is going on.
I always find that the day of the count is a great opportunity to renew acquaintances, sometimes we don't see certain people from one election to the next.
There is always time to reminisce about similar days at other centres and chat about how things have changed.
Social media plays a huge role in this regard with reporters uploading the results as soon as they come to hand.
Back in the dark old days we hand-filled tally sheets and it wasn't until the following Wednesday, Observer Day, that people found out how each booth voted.
I'm a long time covering election counts. And yes, there is still that tinge of excitement even knowing that it will be a long and exhausting day.
I know I will be shaking from all the coffee by night time and bemoaning why the results are taking so long.
Nonetheless even after all these years it remains a very unique day and so stereotypical Irish.
By nightfall you will have people who 'went for one' returning to the centre after several while the whiff of that beer mixed with the aroma of a hard day's work will combine to create a certain pungent aroma!!
It is a day of highs and lows for the candidates - those who have thought themselves safe find that they no longer have a seat while some who thought they did not have much of a chance find themselves winners on the day.
By the way, there is nothing harder that interviewing a councillor who has lost his seat after perhaps decades on the council; to see that shell-shocked face.
On the other hand, to meet a new councillor and see his/her overwhelming exuberance for the job renews your faith in people.
So come what may on Saturday the Observer team will be on hand throughout the whole day - and I have just one request - please send coffee!

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