by NICK NAMMACK
This year’s election cycle has been a unique one due in part to the ongoing pandemic in America. Days after the election, results were still trickling in as absentee ballots were still being counted in key states until President-elect Joe Biden won Pennsylvania on Saturday, officially giving him the 270 electoral votes he needed to win.
Although some believe the results of the race should be finalized on election night, that has not always been the case.
“If you look at past elections there are many that we have not found out the result the same night [of the election] and it is not clear that there has been widespread fraud,” said political science professor Surupa Gupta.
According to Gupta, it is not uncommon for election results to remain inconclusive for several days after the election and is not something that the public should be overly worried about. A big reason why the vote counting took so long is because of the mail-in voting system in most states, which waived the requirement for voters to have a reason to vote by mail, allowing everyone to choose to do so. Initial exit polls showed only the in-person votes, which tended to favor President Donald Trump in many of the swing states such as Michigan and Georgia. These votes were counted throughout election day and well into the night, while mail-in ballots, which tend to favor Democratic candidate Joe Biden, were counted afterwards.
This initial counting skewed the results to display Trump as winning big in many swing states, but as absentee ballots were counted, his percentage began to drop. This led to a surge in votes for Biden, causing him to surpass Trump in many states. In response, Trump called into question the legitimacy of these mail in ballots and stated his intention to contest them in front of the Supreme Court.
Trump’s rhetoric regarding the mail in ballots and their illegality led many of his supporters to take to the streets. In Maricopa County, Ariz., Trump supporters began to protest outside of the office where votes were being counted. They feared that the sharpies issued to some of the voters would not be counted and believed that this was targeted at Trump supporters in order to invalidate many of their votes. However, an investigation by Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich concluded that there was no foul play involved and that ballots marked with sharpie are indeed being counted. However, this failed to mollify the protesters who attempted to break into the premises in order to watch the votes being counted.
“It is possible to contain [protests] if the leaders direct their followers to the right place,” said Gupta.
As opposed to the issue in Maricopa County, dubbed “Sharpiegate” by many of the protesters, Trump supporters in Michigan have taken a different route. Dozens of people have taken to the streets in an effort to halt the vote counting in the state under the pretense that the mail in ballots are illegitimate.
However, protests and demonstrations have been seen on both sides of the aisle and across the country as many Republicans and Democrats campaign for every vote to be counted, regardless of how it was filed.
“I’m not surprised that it’s [the protests] happening in this election, but I believe that as time goes on American politics get more tense and hostile and thus situations like this are more likely to happen,” said senior political science major Jacob Lewis. “I think all votes should be counted, if the protests are against that then I would be opposed to [the protests].”
As the results trickled in for days, many people across the country and in the Mary Washington community were feeling anxious. The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will impact the course of the American government for the next four years.
“I really do feel that this [election] is the most consequential election in American history,” said president of the Young Democrats and senior American studies major Sam Hartz. “There’s just so much on the line here and so much on the ballot.”
Representatives from College Republicans did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.
Despite the protests and highly competitive election, Hartz said, “I do not think we are anymore divided now than we are any year.”