Election Day…or Week…or Month?

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By Adam Koplik, Editor-in-Chief

Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Since President Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration, Democrats have had this date circled on their calendars as their chance to unseat the most polarizing President in history. Their challenger? Former Vice President Joe Biden. The Trump-Biden race has been one of the most dividing, longest, and loudest campaigns in history, with personal attacks taking precedent over policy. Yet, on November 3, it will all come to an end – or at least, we hope.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the entire world into a spiral, and the Presidential race is no different. Due to the disease’s destructive path, precautions have been taken to protect voters for months–the most talked-about of mail-in voting. Mail-in voting has been a thing for years, under the title “absentee”, however, many states are now experiencing it on a larger scale than ever. While Trump has accused the method of inciting fraud, many studies have shown that the mail-in ballots are rarely fraudulent, as voting security increases when it comes to them. Nonetheless, Republicans across the nation are in court attempting to require states to discount votes received after Election Day even if they are postmarked before. These cases could disenfranchise many voters, specifically military and overseas personnel, whose votes don’t usually come in until far after the election is over.

Mail-in voting is far from perfect, however. Many states are incredibly unprepared for the plethora of ballots that will be cast through the mail this year and rely on vastly outdated policies for counting votes. While Florida often practices mail-in voting and has many plans to count early ballots, states like New York don’t start counting mail-in votes until polls close on November 3. While New York is a blue state through and through, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin’s dated policies bring forth fears of a drawn out process where we don’t know the next President until mid-November.

FiveThirtyEight.com’s chart on how much of each state’s vote is expected to be counted on election night.

Due to fears of ballots submitted after Election Day not being counted, Democratic leaders have urged voters to either vote in-person or to drop their ballot off at a dropbox that will ensure its delivery rather than press their luck with the United States Postal Service, which has had its budget slashed leading to slower mail. Many have listened, as early voting (which includes both vote-by-mail and in-person) has had historic turnout. In Texas, which is suddenly a toss-up state, more people have voted early as of October 30 than in the entire 2016 election.

The Trump campaign has suggested that the President could be leading on election night and the Democrats could “steal” the election in the ensuing days, but counting votes is not stealing an election. Pennsylvania estimates 2.6 million absentee/mail-in ballots, the counting of which won’t be begin until the polls close at 8 PM on November 3. This is 10x more than 2016, and counting these ballots is going to take time. So, yes, early returns out of PA will lean Trump as his voters are primarily voting in-person, but we won’t know the winner for a few days as all the votes are counted.

The Republican Lt. Governor of Utah chimed in on Twitter about the Trump campaign’s comments:

November 3 will be a historic date in our nation’s history, and there are so many different ways it could go. It could be called on Tuesday, with either Biden or Trump winning handily. On the other hand, it could be as close as 2016 was, and we don’t know the results for weeks. If it’s close (or not), there’s a good chance this election ends up in front of the now 6-3 majority conservative Supreme Court. No one knows what’s going to happen, but one thing is for sure. Next January, someone born in the 1940s will be sworn in as President of the United States.

Featured Photo: FiveThirtyEight