Following election day, it is fair to say anxiety levels were high. As my friend and I spent hours glued to the television, we watched history write itself as voter turnout soared and swing states swung heavily. We fell asleep on the couch and woke up to still, no results and a close race. At this moment I knew that this process would be stressful and ever-changing. Who would have thought I would be losing sleep thinking about the state of Pennsylvania?
With such a tight race, it is expected that chaos may follow no matter the result. This assumption was solidified for me as I made my weekly commute to Suffolk University on November 6th. Then, I saw an area I am so familiar with be boarded up completely in fear of violence. This election has created a great political divide with consequences to worry about. Is this American? Is this how the candidates believe our country should function? Well, (in any election) until there is a clear winner and a public reaction, we will not know how the country will respond.
As a Suffolk Votes Ambassador, my hope was that this year would be different as far as voter turnout goes. I was not disappointed. In fact, Joe Biden’s total vote count has blown Hillary Clinton’s statistics out of the water. This makes me hopeful that our country is little by little becoming more politically aware and democratically participant. After Class Raps concluded in October, Suffolk Votes held a “Post-Election Community Forum” to discuss the current political happenings. Upon attending, I expected many of the discussions: the high turnout, Florida remaining a red state, and the slow pace at which Nevada was counting votes. I left this meeting very feeling caught up, educated, and satisfied.
The first speaker to contribute to this conversation was John Infranca. Infranca highlighted the attention this election grabbed being similar to the Bush vs. Gore election. Both of these elections were extremely close and anxiety ridden. They are prime examples that “election day” does not mean “results day”. There will be recounts, arguments, and patience needed from the public. In 2000, the recount was challenged due to different standards of a “valid vote” being applied in different states. The final conclusion of Bush’s victory was not announced until around a month later in December. This year, Donald Trump made several comments about the election being rigged against his favor. As he files lawsuits and urges recounts, (or a complete stop of counts) many are aware that not much can change Joe Biden’s victory. For example, a recount in Wisconsin may only change give or take 500 votes, not enough to boost Trump’s electoral votes.
Another one of Trump’s aggravations discussed was over mail in ballots. This year, given the circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic, many people chose to mail in their votes due to personal safety concerns. Therefore, some states took longer to complete the counting process because not all the votes had arrived. Furthermore, in states such as Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court extended the deadline to receive absentee ballots to November 7th, as long as they were stamped in time. However, these votes did not start getting counted until they were all received, which made the process even longer. It may have been a better idea to follow the protocol of Florida, and count the votes as they arrived. Trump argued that this reasoning was flawed, and had to contribute to his defeat. However, Trump went on record to encourage his supporters to vote in person. So, it is no surprise that there were sudden surges in blue votes as all of the votes were counted.
The next member of the Suffolk university community to speak at this forum was Mimi Arbeit. Arbeit provided some encouragement for our next steps as a country after witnessing this election season unfold. Schools across the country should be encouraging students to be politically aware and self-opinionated. This year, Suffolk University did a great job of trying to spread voter enthusiasm through Suffolk Votes. At the same time, Arbeit notes that our country, in general, should be aware of white supremacy groups that attempt to recruit naive young people to spread their hateful messages. Messages like this impose many threats on the electoral system. For example, racism expressed through voter suppression and ID verification at polling locations. Other challenges around major elections are corporations not giving employees the day off, and limited polling locations leading to longer, discouraging lines. Issues like this should encourage people to stand up and speak out when these flaws are noticed, because in many cases it will work. Here at Suffolk, student activism got us election day off. Despite ongoing chaos, the United States managed to set record voter turnout rates and create the country’s fifth one term president. This year was historical in numerous ways, but there is still much work to be done. By the time the 2024 election comes around, there may be new issues to handle and older ones to finalize.
- Dimock, Michael, and Richard Wike. “America Is Exceptional in the Nature of Its Political Divide.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 13 Nov. 2020, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/11/13/america-is-exceptional-in-the-nature-of-its-political-divide/
- Rabinowitz, Kate, and Kevin Schaul. “2020 Turnout Is the Highest in over a Century.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 12 Nov. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/elections/voter-turnout/
- “Bush v Gore.” Oyez, www.oyez.org/cases/2000/00-949
- Zoch, Mandy, and Brian Hinkle. Absentee and Mail Voting Policies in Effect for the 2020 Election, www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/absentee-and-mail-voting-policies-in-effect-for-the-2020-election.aspx
- Riccardi, Nicholas. “Here’s the Reality behind Trump’s Claims about Mail Voting.” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 30 Sept. 2020, https://apnews.com/article/virus-outbreak-joe-biden-election-2020-donald-trump-elections-3e8170c3348ce3719d4bc7182146b582
Nice job, Rose! I really enjoyed your article. The way you centered your conversation around Suffolk University is an interesting and very unique take that not many would be able to do. I liked your paragraph structure in particular, highlighting the different points that the various speakers brought up throughout your experience in the Post-Election Forum, and noting your gratification from such an event. I think it is important to showcase, as you did, the difference between “election day” and “results day”. The aura of patience that must be abound in the United States is imperative to the maintaining of the electoral process, by which many Americans have failed to uphold. With what we see in ballot counting venues across the country, it is clear that many want the voting to stop as it is, as odd as it may seem, and freeze the ballots that have not been counted to date. To continue, I also liked how you turned the chaos of election day into a positive thing. With how divisive the United States is today, it is important to highlight the strong opinions that many Americans have, as you did. With the inclusion of the record voter turnout number, it becomes quite obvious that America is in a time of strong division and a turning point within our country, for better or for worse.
Overall, I really liked your essay, your ties between each point are strong and well-substantiated. You definitely know what you are talking about. Good job!
All in all, this blog post did a remarkable job I must say in honing into the main focal points of the answers that came alongside this important presidential election as we have never seen one truly obscene as one such as this in recent time. Seeing the university boarding up each of their major facilities was a sight to see as it was an eye-opener for many to understand the uprile that will be consumed after a winner is called for a couple of days after Election Day. Your questions of dismay also help to set the image of how politically divided we as citizens are in this country as partisanship has taken a grasp on the political agenda we yearn for in an ideal government setting. Being a part of Suffolk Votes probably also was existential for you to be a part of especially in an election such as this election due to hearing from speakers such as John Inframca and Mimi Arbeit so that you can develop a better and clearer understanding of what’s occurring at this moment and what you can do to be properly politically engaged. It was interesting of you to include the election of 2000 as that whole confusion of thousands of mis-votes from Florida voters helped to change the result from Al Gore winning the popular vote and electoral vote(for a short period of time) to then allowing Bush to get his victory due to the pesky butterfly ballots. The connection of a recount of some kind is nice to make due to the several cases and recounts Trump has been wanting due to his lack of the ability to understand that he lost by over five million votes and that there are no “dead people voting” conspiracy. The paragraph about mail-in voting was good to touch upon as states such as Pennsylvania and Georgia looked like they were going to stay red and be moderately Republican began to see a “sea of blue” due to the mail-in votes that were being accounted for a couple of days later which were impactful for a Biden win. Although this is not seen as a positive in any retrospect, this “transition of power” between Trump and Biden is a good precedent to exemplify the issues that lie with certain policies for how Trump is able to make this lame-duck period rough and almost impossible for Biden just mozy of from due to the chaos of reform that Trump has allowed during his four years as president. As I have repeated before, this blog post did an excellent job at going over the steady progress from Election Day to the modern time of the change that has been ensued from explaining the voting process of this year’s election to what we can see in 2024.