I was one of the two campaign co-managers for Karl Peterjohn’s successful campaign for the Republican nomination for Sedgwick County Commissioner, third district. As such I was invited to the election night party where we watched the returns roll in.
I had my laptop computer with me, connected to the outside world by a wireless network connection. Several others did the same. We all were viewing the Sedgwick County Election Office’s website. Every once in a while we’d hit the refresh button to see if new returns were posted. Not really new or advanced technology at all; just something that many people have today.
A lone small television sat in the corner, its poor reception more static than anything else. Not many people watched. A Wichita Eagle reporter covering the event remarked he’d not seen a return-watching party like this, where the computers, rather than television, were the focus.
The next day we learned of a party where Sedgwick County Commissioner Tom Winters (our opponent) and friends were gathered. They were relying on television to get election results. The Wichita Eagle reporter there had her computer, and upon seeing on the election office website that all votes were counted, and that Tom Winters had lost, she told the party the sad (for them) news. Commissioner Dave Unruh didn’t believe it, and insisted on seeing the results on a television screen before he’d believe his colleague had lost. Then, “Unruh tossed a napkin on a bar table when he learned of Winters’ loss.” (Peterjohn overwhelms Winters in county race, Wichita Eagle, August 6, 2008)
But where, Commissioner Unruh, do you suppose the television stations get their data?