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Behind the scenes: LEX18 prepares for Election Day

Posted at 7:01 PM, Nov 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-02 19:01:13-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Here at LEX 18 News, we are hard at work to make sure we bring our viewers the most accurate, best local election coverage.

This year, COVID-19 has challenged the process, but we are committed to maintaining our reputation of getting early, unofficial results in first.

Here's how we do it: in a typical election year, we have volunteers stationed at every Fayette County precinct. Those volunteers are usually from Centenary United Methodist Church. When the polls close, those volunteers call into the newsroom with the results of each race from each polling location.

On the other end of the line are volunteers from the Beta Sigma Phi professional sorority.

"They literally take the data from that polling location, put it into this program which actually feeds our graphics which goes right on the air so it's pretty instantaneous," LEX 18 assignment manager, Mike Taylor, who has coordinated 68 elections for LEX18, said.

"I could've retired a couple months ago but I wanted to stick around for this one because I think it'll be pretty historic," Taylor said.

Of course, COVID-19 has already left its mark. The pandemic will prevent volunteers from coming back to help LEX 18 on Election Day.

Instead, LEX 18 staff will head to the eight Fayette County polling locations and relay the results to the newsroom. Staff will also head to the Clerk's Office in downtown Lexington to learn the results from absentee votes. Again, those numbers will go straight on our air.

Those early totals, however, won't be the final outcome of who won a particular race. Taylor explained why it's important to give the results out as they come in.

"I think it's really important, especially this year where people are worried about 'Is my vote being counted?' that they can see them start being counted rather than just sit there for 48 hours and see some mass total come in at the end," Taylor said. "It's much more transparent for them to see totals coming in a little bit at a time."

Finally, the Fayette County results will be combined with results from other counties. Those results will come from the Associated Press.

When Taylor and a few other managers feel confident about which way a race is going, LEX 18 will make the call.

"Honestly in Kentucky, if we're not done for the most past by 9:00 something went wrong," Taylor said.

If everything goes smoothly, Taylor predicts that by 8:00 p.m. tomorrow night, we will have a good idea who will win the Barr, Hicks race. At some time between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., we could learn who Kentucky wants for President. Between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., we may know whether McConnell or McGrath will win the Senate race.