By LESLIE MORIARTY and JANICE PODSADA
It’s like waking up on Christmas morning and finding no presents under the tree.
That’s how some Snohomish County residents were feeling on the morning following one of the closest presidential races in history.
"We still don’t know who the next president is going to be," Courtney Horne said from her Everett espresso business Wednesday. "The whole system seems to be off. I just keeping thinking, ‘Count the ballots and get this thing over with.’ "
The day after the election, a variety of opinions surfaced in the county regarding the close race, the Electoral College vs. the popular vote and the wait for absentee ballots to be counted.
Horne said past presidential elections didn’t interest her, but this one does.
"It’s very weird to think that our nation is so evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, and conservatives and liberals," she said. "I can’t believe how everything is so 50-50. It’s just crazy to me."
Horne stayed up as long as she could to watch election returns Tuesday, but finally had to go to bed because she had to work the next day.
"My customers are kind of in and out in a hurry," she said. "So they’re not talking a lot about it. But my friends and I have talked. We just can’t imagine how long this might go on."
At the QFC grocery store in Mill Creek, checkers replaced the ubiquitous, "How are you today?" with the more personal question, "Did you stay up late last night?"
Lou Ann Bauman, who works in the QFC pharmacy, said Tylenol sales soared because of the late-night election coverage.
"Everybody was up," Bauman said. "Nobody looks really good today."
Voters on both sides of the political fence said they weren’t happy with the Electoral College system, however.
Lori Cavalli, sipping coffee outside the Mill Creek Starbucks, said the system should be scrapped.
"They should do away with it. The Constitution starts out, ‘We the people,’ not, ‘We the Electoral College,’" said Cavalli, who voted for Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
Susan Flynn of Bothell, who cast her ballot for Vice President Al Gore, had no quarrel with Cavalli.
"The Electoral College is out-of-date, especially in an election where so many people turned out," Flynn said.
But Bud Schackman, a retired Mill Creek resident, said the Electoral College has functioned fine for many years.
"You get a tight race like this and people suddenly want to change things. It’s been working all these years," said Schackman, who remembers another presidential race that hung in the balance.
"Forty years ago, it was Truman and Dewey," he added.
But east of Mill Creek, at the Sky River Pub in Sultan, bartender Linda Palmer said customers were questioning the impact of their individual vote.
"With things being the way they are with the Electoral College, lots of people are thinking that their vote doesn’t really count for much," Palmer said. "They keep saying, ‘Why’d I even vote?’ "
Palmer said many of her customers said they voted for Libertarians, and hence aren’t as involved in the Gore-Bush battle.
"I think they just want it to be over," she said. "They’re tired of the campaign ads on TV and all the telephone calls asking them to vote for whoever."
Russ Sumpter of Monroe was surfing the Internet through the wee hours of Wednesday morning, hoping to find out who had won the presidential race before going to bed.
"I got off the ferry coming home from the Sultan High School football game in Port Townsend at midnight," he said. "When I got home, I got on the Internet, and I’ll bet I was up until 2:30 or 3 (a.m.)"
When he got to work at Sno Country Ford in Monroe later Wednesday morning, the buzz was all about the presidential election.
"That’s all people have been talking about," he said. "We want to know who’s going to win this election.
"And we’ve been talking about the popular vote versus the electoral vote. Most of the people here are Republicans, and on Tuesday they weren’t so hot on the idea of the electoral vote mattering. But now they’ve flip-flopped. Now they’re believing in the electoral system."
In Snohomish on Wednesday, Kerry Condell was occasionally tuning in the radio at her workplace to see what was happening.
The electoral vote is something that Condell is contemplating.
"In situations like this one with this presidential race, I begin to wonder about it," she said. "I understand that it helps in some ways because it makes the candidates feel they have to campaign in all 50 states, not just the large ones.
But to think that who the people voted for may not be president, "that seems very wrong."