The great national sigh of relief will be almost palpable Tuesday as citizens all across Utah and the nation go to the polls to vote.

It will be over. And thank goodness.The campaign has been long. The candidates have worn themselves out. There have been dueling press conferences, angry speeches, hundreds of position papers and plenty of posturing and promises. Mud has been slung. Integrity has been challenged. And now it will finally be over for another couple of years.

Nowhere will the relief be as profound as in the newsroom of the Deseret News. Sure, closely fought election campaigns give us plenty of news to put in the newspaper. But they also cause stress, anxiety and burnout for reporters and editors, as well as the candidates.

Our staff faces one more big night - election night - and then things will slow to an easier pace and reporters and editors can get some rest. The election crew will gather about 10 p.m. Tuesday night, about when the returns begin to trickle in. They will spend the night gathering election results, interviewing winners and losers, and writing stories about what happened.

They will do more than simply list winners and losers. They will put the election into perspective and tell what it means to the future of Utah and the nation. They will tell why the losses and victories occurred and what strategies worked and failed.

The election crew, headed by Political Editor Bob Bernick and State Editor David Schneider, will put together 10 full pages of election stories in the A section, in addition to other stories in the B section.

We will have the results of every race in the state, from presidential down to local school board and minor county offices. We will have stories analyzing all the key contests and photos of many of the winners will be featured.

Most of the writing will be done between midnight and 6 a.m. Wednesday morning. And you will have it all on your doorstep later that evening.

However, a tremendous amount of planning, page layout and design, photo processing and preparation of charts and graphs has been done in advance, mostly by Schneider, who has headed the technical and organizational aspects of the election coverage.

Schneider has been putting in 16-hour days for more than the past week, not only preparing for election night, but also planning, coordinating and editing the tremendous amount of pre-election campaign coverage we've provided - especially the extensive effort Sunday with the 24-page tabloid section and several other pages devoted to politics.

Meanwhile, several of our writers are plenty ready for some R&R. "It's been a long grind," said Bernick, the intrepid political editor. He's had his hands full keeping all sides happy in the hotly contested gubernatorial race and other contests.

Reporter Lisa Roche has also been on the hotseat. She has covered the tax initiatives and has done an outstanding job. In my memory, no issue has spawned as much emotion, divisiveness, anger and even hatred as has this one.

Lisa has worked extra long hours and has been yelled at by angry partisans on both sides of the issue as she has sorted out confusing figures and conflicting information to put this critical issue into perspective in dozens of stories.

Through it all, Lisa has managed to maintain her good humor and the respect and cooperation of leaders on both sides of the tax initiative issue - no small feat in such an emotionally charged atmosphere.

All in all, it has been a long election year, with lots of pushing and pulling from every direction. A daily newspaper becomes the focal point of intense lobbying and pressure from literally hundreds of candidates and interest groups.

Through it all, we have done our best to provide fair, accurate and complete accounts of the campaign events. We have tried to put the many events into perspective through news analyses, opinion columns and editorials. We have allowed access to our newspaper pages to several hundred citizens through letters to the editor and "My View" columns.

Reporters have been instructed to be fair and balanced. Never has an order been given from any level to use the news columns to favor one candidate or cause over another.

We have done our best and have presented enough information over the past several months for any concerned citizen who has read the paper carefully to make informed, intelligent choices at the ballot box.

Now, take a deep breath. All together: Whewwwwww!!!