With No Winner at Press Time, Wednesday’s Editorials Focus on Turnout

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By: Erin Olson

Tuesday’s election results dragged well into Wednesday, meaning newspaper editorialists could do little more than comment on the apparently high turnout in today’s print editions.

The San Francisco Chronicle remarked, “Something remarkable happened in America on Tuesday. Apathy took a holiday. Americans showed they cared about the political process — passionately.”

In a nod to its own readers, the Chronicle continued, “Even in California, which had been largely ignored by the major-party candidates, voters waited patiently in line. When was the last time you can remember masses of Californians waiting in line for anything not of tangible value?”

The Boston Globe said in its editorial, “The turnout was a moving expression of belief that the electoral system is still the best way the effect change. … Watching citizens wait for hours to exercise the franchise warmed the heart. This is the grandeur of democracy: Americans melding their power in millions of individual acts to steer the nation’s course for the next four years.”

The Globe did acknowledge the divisive nature of the election, however: “Unfortunately, large portions of the electorate made clear they were voting against one candidate rather than for the other — a consequence of the overwhelmingly negative campaigns run by both Bush and Kerry.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer remarked that maybe negative campaigning wasn’t actually such a bad thing: “But even the worst acts this election season simply helped fuel the frenzy of folks to go vote. The resulting tidal wave of balloting yesterday was something to behold. And savor.”

In another editorial, the Inquirer took the next step and delivered advice on how to capitalize on renewed voter interest: “Now the challenge will be for the parties to parlay that heightened interest into finding more and better candidates for state, local and congressional races. There are still too many races in which the incumbent gets a free pass for want of serious, qualified competition.”

The paper concluded that the country took a step in the right direction last night, regardless of who was elected: “This was perhaps the election of the millennium. America knew that, and America responded.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “This election seems to be in dispute mostly because a whole lot of people voted. And this is actually a good problem to have, even if lawyers get in the act and this post-election starts to mimic the circus that was the 2000 election.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “One thing united Americans during a second straight closely divided presidential election: The extraordinary interest that people showed in charting the direction of their country.”

St. Petersburg Times: “In Florida, citizens could have responded to the fiasco of the 2000 election by turning cynical. Instead, they turned out in record numbers, with many standing in line for hours to cast their votes. Thousands of formerly disaffected citizens became political activists. Millions of first-time voters seized the chance to make themselves heard.”

Houston Chronicle: “Regardless of who won the presidency for the next four years (and late Tuesday night it was too close to call), this election produced a larger winner, the republic. The massive increase in voter turnout demonstrated a vigorous, functional democracy at work.”

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