Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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Election Night Celebrations

Election Day

The State of Delaware has its special election phenomenon of Returns Day, dating from Colonial days when people active in politics gathered in Georgetown waiting for the election returns to be counted and announced, and then celebrated. In a day when electronic balloting and vote counting have speeded things up, things have changed everywhere, but traces remain.

The tradition is now that the "head of the ticket", the Governor or Senator running for election will gather a large crowd in a hotel meeting room on the night of the election, about two hours after the polls close. Supporters are rewarded with drinks and eats, reporters gather for comments, and the television station interviews interminably, waiting for the results to be announced. Official results are slow to arrive, having to go through more certification steps, but the district and precinct leaders keep an open telephone line to headquarters, relaying the results, especially the local results, to the headquarter celebrations in various local hotels. At the local headquarters end of the lines, someone keeps an ear glued for ballot results to be announced. Nowadays, the party faithful is gathered in a taproom, all right, but the whole place is filled with people holding a cell phone to their ears while they eat pizza with the other hand. Nearby, of course, is a stein of beer. So, the room erupts with sudden huzzahs every few minutes, and at other times people are reassured that later returns will reverse an unfavorable trend. When the final results are announced, the losers make concession speeches. Winning politicians always arrive late to the party, are greeted with cheers, and proceed to make a victory speech. And then leave.

One by one, the ranks of the party thin out until the room is empty except for the barmaid.

Originally published: Wednesday, November 06, 2013; most-recently modified: Thursday, May 16, 2019