Whatever your feelings toward the 2016 US presidential campaigning has been, there’s finally something we can agree about: it ends tonight. Election Day 2016 has been fraught with tension built up over months of a busy, mud-slinging campaign season, and finally, finally the polls will be closing. The United States has a complicated electoral process — which 3D printing can help you to understand — and tonight the ballots will be counted. Absentee, early, in person at the polls: the votes have been rolling in, and the eyes of the world are upon us.
I got up early to vote this morning with my husband and, despite reports of area friends with hour-plus-long lines at their local polling stations, we were able to walk right in and cast our votes with no wait. Once I sign off from the computer, we’ll be joining friends at a watch party to see those electoral votes roll in to determine who our next president will be. Ohio is famously a swing state, so we’re all especially full of frayed nerves around here.
You have an unprecedented amount of options this year for tuning in for election coverage, from live streams and podcasts to radio and television, but there’s also a new viewing party in town, thanks to the Washington Post. Tonight, starting at 7 pm EST, Washington Post Politics will be live streaming a new visualization method of electoral vote counting, sharing on Facebook the 3D printing of two models of the White House, one blue, one red.
“We built these White Houses from plastic … and electoral votes. To illustrate the 2016 presidential election results in real time, The Post is using a pair of Makerbot 3D Replicator+ machines to print two identical models of The White House in red and blue. Each model represents the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. As states are called by the Associated Press for Hillary Clinton (blue) and Donald J. Trump (red), the printers will print just that much of the White House,” the Post says.
“By the end of the night, one White House will be complete and 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. will have a new occupant.”
The footage will additionally be made available tomorrow morning as a time-lapse video showing the 3D printing process.
“Each White House is divided into 270 parts, one for each electoral vote needed to win the presidency,” the Post explains. “For example, if Kentucky is called for Republican Donald Trump the red printer will add 3% more to its model. But that’s not all. The Post will have an illustrator coloring in states and tracking the votes needed live as the printers work.”
Helping the Post‘s efforts along will be two 3D printers we’re quickly becoming more familiar with: the recently-introduced Replicator+ from MakerBot. Using the new desktop 3D printers also demonstrates the Post‘s trust in their reliability in front of a live audience, providing a nice vote of confidence in technology from the company that had been synonymous with desktop 3D printing for quite a while.
“In addition to all The Post’s thoughtful, serious coverage, we wanted to offer our audience a fun and light-hearted way to track the presidential results,” the Post’s director of strategic initiatives, Jeremy Gilbert, told the Washingtonian.
“This election has been quite serious and acrimonious. We wanted to find an alternate tone for people tracking the vote. The White House is a natural symbol for the presidency and the idea of building a White House as a way to see who’s ahead on election night felt natural. Once we tried watching the 3D printers work, we found it almost mesmerizing. It’s a slow journalism way to enjoy the vote counting.”
Whatever your thoughts on the candidates headlining tonight’s news, whether you question their logos, hate their faces, or think it’s all for the dogs — tonight will be one for the history books, however the votes tally up. And of course — we can only hope to continue to see 3D printing welcomed in the White House under our next Commander in Chief.