In election aftermath, uncertainties abound for American citizens, voters

Various protesters marched at what was referred to as the #MAGAMillionMarch over the course of the January 14th weekend in Washington, DC. Some attendees showed support and other attendees expressed criticism of the current Presidential administration. “[President Donald J. Trump] woke us up,” Anthony Cabassa said, who had flown in from Los Angeles, according to a report published by the New York Times on November 14th. “Whether you were on the left or on the right, he woke a lot of people up.” Photo courtesy of Elvert Barnes & Wikimedia Commons.

After a wait of four long days, on November 7th, 2020, Joseph R. Biden was projected to be the 46th President of the United States, per the Associated Press’ report. The announcement of his win has elicited various responses from all over the world, including the failure by President Donald J. Trump to immediately concede the election and a weekend rally in Washington, DC, led mostly by Trump supporters, including the Proud Boys, among others.

As of the time of this printing, Trump has refused to concede the results of the election. This refusal comes at a time when republicans and democrats both assert that intelligence should be shared with the President-elect so as to ensure a peaceful transition from Trump’s administration to January’s Biden administration. The lack of such intelligence, according to reports, makes America vulnerable on the international stage when working with other governments and on the national stage as it continues to combat COVID-19.

Additionally, in the continuing war supporting theories that election fraud may have taken place during the election, Trump has fired Christopher Krebs. Krebs served as the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and publicly talked back to conspiracy theories that suggested that the 2020 election had been contaminated due to voter fraud. The firing was announced on Twitter through the President’s personal Twitter account.

Ahead of the election, many people across the nation voiced their concerns over not only certain policies but the election in general, according to reports published by a number of media outlets.

In August, less than a third (31%, to be specific) of the country had a favorable view of the President in the days after he accepted the republican nomination for the second time, according to a poll published by ABC News on August 30th. Meanwhile, the number of individuals polled on the subject of pandemic relief — receiving governmental monies as financial support versus receiving no governmental support whatsoever — dropped by 19 points among registered republicans, according to a poll published around the same time by Fox News. Previously, democrats were favored to accept financial assistance in order to weather the pandemic. By mid-August, according to the poll, a majority of Americans — republican and democrat — were indicating they needed some help. 

Senior Madison Perry has been politically active outside of school and voted in-person on election day. 

“After all of the civil issues that have come across during the time in which Donald Trump was in office, I feel like there was a lot more at stake and a lot more stress as to the outcome of this election,” Perry said. 

Going into the election, Perry had numerous concerns regarding the state of the nation. She focused on what she could control until the results were in, Perry added.

“I personally was afraid I’d do something wrong on the ballot but I was also afraid of some of the violence that was predicted to follow the election,” Perry said. 

Since then, Perry has had time to reflect upon the results of the election itself.

“I was disappointed at how close the elections were,” Perry added. “I thought that after everything that’s happened between the last few years, especially in the span of COVID, there would be more people voting blue.”

These two concerns have been echoed by most people around the country. After witnessing the many riots that occurred over the summer, major cities boarded up their stores ahead of the election, predicting violent aftermath, according to reports published by NPR. Many stores implemented additional security measures. This led to a feeling of unease amongst people as they felt that the election results could result in violence. 

Another major concern has been the issue of voting itself. Voter suppression occurring in elections is no secret, but some also suspected voter fraud was at play. With the amount of mail-in ballot voting, certain groups of individuals said that there could be increased opportunities for error. 

Senior Tristen Hart, President of East’s Political Action Club, voted in-person this year as well. He said he felt that the opportunity for voting irregularities was much higher this year due to mail-in ballot voting.

“I think it gave a lot more people an opportunity to participate, but I also think it increased the odds of voter irregularities and made the system much more convoluted, as evidenced by the fact that we still do not have conclusive results,” Hart said.

AP Government and Politics teacher Tyler VanLandeghem, who voted in-person during this election, disputed this claim. 

“The talk that the process was going to be flawed and that there would be voter fraud and election fraud … is completely unfounded in every sense. There are never any examples because it doesn’t exist in the United States,” VanLandeghem said. “[Although] states that promoted mail-in ballot voting made it very difficult. In Illinois, it was not easy to cast them.”

Perry agreed that mail-in ballot voting had a huge impact on the outcome. 

“I think it made it a lot easier for people to be able to vote during COVID and feel comfortable voting without potentially being exposed to COVID or potential violence,” Perry said. 

Sophomore Aditya Ramsundar, a member of East’s Political Action Club, also said he felt that mail-in ballot voting was a safe and secure way of voting. He also felt that the pandemic and the recession had an impact on the outcome. He initially predicted that there would be a “blue wave” where democrats would win by a landslide.

“I was wrong,” Ramsundar said. “Republicans outperformed polling and flipped seats in the House. But I think Trump would have won in a landslide if it weren’t for the pandemic and the recession.”

While the House kept a majority but didn’t expand it, Biden was able to flip many states that have usually been red and states that were red in the 2016 election, such as Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. States that used to be considered swing states, like Virginia, have become safe states for democrats now. 

AP Government and Politics teacher Steven Doerrer voted early this year. He said he felt that many states flipped due to changing demographics in previously republican counties.

“The changing demographics in Maricopa County, which is the county around Phoenix … [looks] a lot different than it did in 2016. Trump won it by something like 65% in 2016 and he had just under 50% this year, so that’s a big drop,” Doerrer said. 

For nearly 30 years, Arizona had been a red state. This year, many counties surprisingly turned blue. Another major factor was the high indigenous voter turnout. Polling places are hours away from indigenous reservations, but a large portion of the Navajo Nation in Arizona showed up to vote for Biden. Overall, voter turnout was much higher this year. In Georgia, Stacey Abrams, an American politician and lawyer, and the FairFight Action Organization registered over 800,000 voters. There was also a surge in youth voter turnout. Many who were able to vote for the first time, like Tristen Hart and Madison Perry, made their votes count.

Although Biden was able to flip multiple states, the results were still very close. In Georgia, the difference between Biden and Trump was a mere 0.3%, according to polling provided by the Associated Press. Between the election on November 3rd and the results on November 7th, tensions were high. 

Perry said she felt stressed during the wait. She was nervous prior to the election and those feelings increased as the numbers started to come in on election day. 

“I know everybody was following [the election] pretty closely but I tried my best to avoid any news because of how stressed I was,” Perry said.

Senior Peyton Nguyen has become increasingly involved in politics over the course of the Trump Presidency. He said he felt disappointed at the close results as the policies being debated affect minorities and he also felt nervous between the election and the announcement of the 46th President.  

“After so many years of poor conduct, I can’t believe it was actually that close. It’s very disheartening to see so many people remain ignorant as the nation is trying to recover. Hopefully, people can see how some of the rhetoric over the last four years really damaged minority communities,” Nguyen said. “I was beyond nervous. I had one tab with my classes open, and another with the news just to keep an eye on everything. After a while I got tired of being anxious and ended up feeling pretty helpless.”

Nguyen also said he felt concerned for the safety of anyone that went outside due to extremist groups. VanLandeghem also stated that he was anxious much like everyone else and fearful of both sides going out and doing things they shouldn’t do, but he was relatively surprised by the reactions. 

“You had people dancing in the street and people not doing anything else. They’re just sitting at home, angry that they lost,” VanLandeghem said. 

“After so many years of poor conduct [on the President’s part], I can’t believe [the election] was actually that close. It’s very disheartening to see so many people remain ignorant as the nation is trying to recover. Hopefully, people can see how some of the rhetoric over the last four years really damaged minority communities.”

— senior Peyton Nguyen

Although the Associated Press finalized Biden’s victory, President Trump has hinted at not wanting to concede. He and his administration have continued to impede the transition. Ramsundar said he felt that the President would eventually concede.

“Once the lawsuits are dismissed and the states are recounted, I think Trump will accept his loss and leave the White House,” Ramsundar said.

Hart, who is not entirely convinced that Biden has won yet, agreed that if the President’s lawsuits do not provide concrete evidence of election tampering then he would concede.

“If Biden’s win is confirmed in court, the transfer of power will be relatively peaceful. If Trump’s litigation unveils evidence of voter irregularities and he is declared the winner, there will absolutely be violence and rioting,” Hart said.

Despite the various reactions to Biden’s win and the transfer of power, everyone hopes to see some changes made. Ramsundar hopes to see criminal justice reform, occupational licensing reform, and free trade. Perry hopes to see more solidarity in regard to minority rights and more reform to deal with COVID. Nguyen also hopes to see reform in almost every area of American life, but primarily COVID first. 

“I want to see an actual plan be developed in order to deal with COVID-19. It is impacting all areas of American life, so it should be a priority for the Biden administration to implement ways to stop the spread, increase testing, and increase hospital capacity,” Nguyen said. 

However, with Congress and the country so divided, it will be difficult to implement changes, propose new policies, and get the pandemic under control.

Doerrer stated that if there is a 50-50 tie in the Senate, the tie would go to Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, meaning the democrats would have a majority. Both parties are currently deadlocked for control and it all depends on the Georgia Senate races. 

“Any kind of radical policy change, regardless of who holds control of those chambers, is not going to get done because representatives have to run for re-election in two years, and for senators, there’s another third of them that are going to be re-elected. So a lot of these campaign promises that Biden has, he’s going to have to pare them down a bit,” Doerrer said.

However, Ramsundar mentioned that he felt a republican majority in the Senate would affect the federal court, and the small democrat majority in the house would have implications as well. 

“I think the federal justices will be more originalist and textualist due to republicans winning, but I also think that the republicans will help reduce the deficit. Nancy Pelosi might not be Speaker [of the House] if the republicans and some democrats come together to reject her,” Ramsunder said. 

Along with the impacts on the country’s policies, this election will affect the rest of the world as well since the United States is the world’s most dominant military and economic power. People around the world have become involved and interested in the U.S. elections as many of the nation’s trade agreements greatly impact countries everywhere. 

VanLandeghem said he felt that it would not affect the country’s international relations too much.

“If you want something, you need to work with us. It doesn’t matter who’s in the White House. So if you take some of the superficial reality of the President away, nothing really changed over the last four years,” VanLandeghem said. 

However, there is no doubt that this election will impact many people. 

“Overall, I think this is one of the most important elections in American Political history and I think this election highlighted the ever-shifting role the media plays in politics,” Hart said. 

Although the Associated Press has projected that Joe Biden is the President-Elect, the Electoral College will vote on December 14th, 2020, and the states’ results will be finalized soon after. 

Deshna Chitrarasu is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl

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