Lou Ziegler column: Tuesday will be a night for gulping Pepto Bismol

Most newsrooms order food, usually pizza, on election night. This Tuesday, we'll make sure to have Pepto Bismol on hand to wash it down. Reason: the U.S.

Most newsrooms order food, usually pizza, on election night.

This Tuesday, we'll make sure to have Pepto Bismol on hand to wash it down.

Reason: the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota.

On Thursday, Minnesota's Supreme Court, reacting to the death of Paul Wellstone, ruled election officials must send new absentee ballots to those who want to change their vote.

The second ballot would replace the first one.


Officials estimate up to 8 percent of the votes cast could be through absentee ballots.

Issues surrounding this new mail-in ballot very likely will slow the counting.

Last week, The Associated Press sent an advisory saying the results for a large portion of the U.S. Senate vote in Minnesota probably will not be available until early Wednesday morning.

Since several thousand of our newspapers are sent same-day mail and have to be at the Fargo Post Office by 11:30 p.m., the results will be incomplete for those living in the more distant parts of our circulation area.

If we don't make it to the post office on time, the paper will arrive a day later than usual.

Trucks at the post office leave for Grand Forks, N.D. and St. Cloud, Minn. The newspapers go from those post offices to smaller posts offices.

Much of the time those trucks are on the road our presses are printing an updated newspaper that leaves the building at 1:30 a.m. for mail to places like Galesburg, Milnor, Gwinner and Hankinson -- to name a few in North Dakota -- and to places like Dent, Vergas and Underwood in Minnesota.

We have trucks going to Jamestown, N.D., for a 3 a.m. delivery and to Detroit Lakes, Minn., for a 3:15 a.m. deadline.


On a typical weekday night, the paper is updated again for places close to Fargo-Moorhead, for trucks leaving the newspaper at 2:30 a.m.

We're pushing back our deadline 30 minutes to accommodate later election news in our "final" edition.

Then, there is no guarantee that our last edition, which runs off the press at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, will report the official winner of the Senate race.

Remember election night two years ago, and those hanging chads?

I have a copy of the final edition's press plate on my office wall.

A big headline says: "It's a 'W' for Bush."

That front page never made it out of the building. We left the building about 3 in the morning uncertain about the outcome of the presidential contest.

Really, from our standpoint, the forgotten heroes on election night are the carriers who contract to deliver The Forum.


Many have other jobs.

If the paper comes too late off the press, they're up against it.

If the paper is too late, we risk making readers angry because they went off to work without their Forum.

We'll be devoting about eight full pages of space to the election in Wednesday's paper.

If we miss a result, it won't be for not trying to get it.

If you go online to our Web site, you'll be able to get the results as fast as we get them.

Reporters at the courthouses in Moorhead and Fargo will contact Rob Beer, our day news editor, who'll post the results immediately.

"Saving North Dakota" update: During the previous two weeks, this column addressed our reporting project on the outmigration of residents from the state. Stories will begin appearing in December.


The response and offers of help are gratifying.

Paula Klein from the FM Leadership program stopped by to say that group of primarily younger employees from a variety of businesses would like to get involved.

Jill Wilkey, director of the NDSU Career Center, offered to help select the 30-35 people who'll participate in a "Roundtable" discussion of persons 18-34-years-old -- the people most likely to leave North Dakota. She'll make sure the Roundtable participants closely mirror that population.

The State Historical Society of North Dakota Foundation asked that I talk about what people were saying in the calls and e-mails.

That occasion led me to hear some interesting, off-the-beaten-path ideas from Terry Rockstad of Bismarck, N.D.

Please keep the comments coming.

Ziegler can be reached at

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