Area stations are planning election-night marathons, with correspondents posted from Fairfax to Rockville to the streets of Washington. Many of the stations will also be relying on coverage and analysis from the national networks.

Network projections based on exit polling and sample precincts during the 1980 presidential contest provoked considerable criticism from politicians and the public. Some think the forecasting may have cut down the vote in the western region and affected election results. This year the networks have all very carefully restated a policy to project local and national winners in a state only when the polls are closed, and to report the winner of the presidential race when the majority of electoral votes are won.

Preempting regular programming are the following election watches:

At 7 p.m., Ed Meyer steps into the anchor booth at WMAL-AM (630). Jim Lengle, political science professor at Georgetown University, will provide analysis. WMAL will also carry the reports of ABC network correspondents.

WTOP-AM (1500) switches from all-news to all-election news at 7 p.m. with anchor Dave McConnell. He will be assisted by Joe Connolly, the station's assistant news director. The station carries CBS, Associated Press and the Mutual Broadcasting System. Mutual's reports will be anchored by network regulars Jim Bohannon, Peter Maer and Jim Slade, who will be joined by Paul Duke of the Public Broadcasting System. Also contributing analysis will be Ben Wattenberg and Mark Shields, who will stick around to do "The Larry King Show" at 12:05 a.m. And in case you want to see all this activity, Mutual will be carried live by C-Span.

WAMU-FM (88.5) starts its continuous coverage at 8 p.m. with National Public Radio's lineup and twice-hourly 10-minute reports by WAMU's staff. Matt Coates, WAMU reporter/editor, will coanchor with political commentator Mark Plotkin. NPR's coverage will include instant analysis by pollster Louis Harris, and will emphasize the congressional races with the research assistance of the National Committee for an Effective Congress. "Morning Edition" will start an hour early, at 5 a.m., on Wednesday.

WWRC-AM (980) gears up at 8 p.m. with anchor Camille Bohannon and feeds from staff and NBC News. The station returns to Talk/Net at midnight.

WHUR-FM (96.3) is planning a 25-minute wrap-up at 11:05 p.m.

WNTR-AM (1050) has scheduled a call-in show Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. with Ed Enderle for a post-mortem on the results.