The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 6, 2012

Spear: Election Day coverage changes planned

By Joe Spear
The Free Press

— We’ve implemented a few changes for our Election Day news coverage, many for the better.

In the past, we’ve spent a good deal of staff time sitting at courthouses waiting for results or more recently sitting at our computers waiting for online results to be available.

This year we will again be giving you real-time results as they come in but also providing you with links to check on the results yourself in a user-friendly way.

We’ve set up 33 links to local election results through the secretary of state’s website. Simply go to our website ( and follow the links to see results for the Legislature, federal offices, schools, cities, counties and the hotly contested constitutional amendments.

We’ll also be using instant news messaging through Twitter on our website to provide the latest results and hopefully get you the final results before you go to bed, depending on what time you go to bed, of course. Most of us in The Free Press newsroom will be here until 3 a.m. or 4 a.m.,   and we have staff coming in at 5 a.m. Wednesday to catch you up on all the latest if need be.

Two or three of our reporters and a photographer will be providing live coverage from some of the campaign headquarters, again through the Twitter feed on our website. It’s at It’s an effort to humanize election night coverage and show the drama of what this election may mean to the candidates and their supporters.

The Secretary of State’s Office tells us they will update their site every 15 minutes and experience tells us that sometimes it’s even more frequent. We, of course, will rely on county websites as backups to the secretary of state.

If, by chance the state’s system gets slow and experiences glitches, we will be ready to revert to our backup sites.

Officials from the secretary’s office told me they’ve upgraded their system this year and have backups in place. From the media review I was able to take of the site, it looks much easier to track election results this year than in years past.

For example, on school levy questions, you don’t have to jump around to each county a school district might be in. You can simply get all the results, by precinct, under that question.

And with any luck, we’ll get that good ol’ print edition out with most, if not all, of the results. We push our press start back about two hours on election night, holding the presses until the last minute to bring you all the latest results.


Joe Spear is editor of The Free Press. Contact him at 344-6382 or