The day has finally arrived that will decide who will lead the United States for the next four years. If you don’t know the candidates by now, let us just say you probably aren’t paying attention to the world because the news about this election has permeated our social existence. Republican Donald J. Trump, our acting president, was defeated by the Democrat representative and former vice president Joe Biden. These candidates saw a historical presidential race where several states had razor thin results. To add to the complexity of this, the Trump adminsitration has challanged the voting process and is suing several states for voter fraud, while simultaneously claiming victory in what is claerly a loss.
What resulted in a clear victory for Joe Biden has quickly turned into a challenge of our voting process. The election process has been underway for months considering absentee ballots, mail-in voting, early voting, and in-person voting. With this year being an election year, Congress has to consider the Coronavirus, and that people may not want to gather in groups in public and risk contacting this virus. This is why some states and election workers have encouraged mail-in voting and early voting. All of this seems like it works together, but in reality the voting counts have been a mess for many different reasons. Some ballots have been damaged, ruined, tempered with, or not filled out correctly; some of these ballots have been thrown out. In some cases, depending on the state, voters with faulty mail-in-ballots that are legitimate are given a window of time to fix their ballot. This result leaves the American people angered and confused.
On November 3, Americans all over the country went to the ballots and cast their votes. As always, news channels on the night of the election were broadcasting the results across the country. Although, as the day ended, and Wednesday began, the American people still had no clear answer to who our president will be for the next four years.
One of the main issues has been how voting is carried out differently from state to state . In the United States, every person of legal age has the right to vote for who they want to represent our great nation. However, every state does voting differently, and has different standards on how they decide to carry out the election process. Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) are a set of specifications and requirements against which voting systems can be tested to determine if the systems meet the required standards. Some factors examined under these tests include basic functionality, accessibility, and security capabilities. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was established by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. The EAC relies on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to write the detailed technical guidelines, and on the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), a group of volunteer stakeholders—vendors, academics, advocates, election officials, etc.—to review the guidelines.
With that being said, those voting standards apply to all types of voting. In a normal election year with no pandemic, Americans have the option to apply for an absentee ballot if they can’t make it to the polls on election day. An absentee ballot is a form of voting in which you fill out a ballot through mail upon request, and it will be counted, and recorded into the results. In two-thirds of the states, any qualified voter may vote absentee without offering an excuse, and in one-third of the states, an excuse is required. Some states offer a permanent absentee ballot list; once a voter asks to be added to the list, one will automatically receive an absentee ballot for all future elections. Then the remainder of Americans who don’t vote by mail must report to their nearby polls to cast their vote on election day. Again, this applies to a normal election year. As everyone knows 2020 has by no means a normal election year (mainly caused by the corona virus pandemic).
Mail-in ballots are designed to help people vote who feel unsafe going to polls in the midst of a pandamic. In a handful of states, election officials decided to send ballots out automatically to every eligible voter (no request or application is necessary). This is not an abnormal concept as states may permit the all-mail option for specific types of elections and have done so in the past. Polling places may also be available for voters who would like to vote in-person up to a month before election day, as it is available in four-fifths of the states. In these states, any qualified voter may cast a ballot in person during a designated period prior to election day. However, some state election officials may have been in over their heads; with all the different votes to count, this caused certain states to take a longer time to report. After three days of waiting for a determination of winner, the country still has no clear answer from crucial select states. Americans began to question whether the integrity of all of the voting types was accurate. The voting results changed back and forth Tuesday night unexpectedly from time to time, and it appears to some that there may be possible voting fraud. These sudden changes in most areas were favorable towards democrat nominee Joe Biden. Republican, Donald Trump has called for recounts in several of the controversial states.
Different states report in many ways when it comes to reporting all types of ballots. This made it hard for all 50 states to get all their votes in during a certain time frame. Adding a complexity to this, in several states, they were told they could not count mail-in ballots until election day due to republican interference of the process – this greatly slowed down the counting as this was an unprecedented year for mail-in ballots.
This took longer to report votes and this is why some states didn’t have all votes in by Tuesday night. As an example, Ohio’s board of elections can process absentee ballots, including scanning, but not tabulating. They have been allowed to do this since Oct. 6. “The board must begin this process prior to Election Day to ensure the Unofficial Canvass includes all absentee ballots received by the close of polls,” said the Ohio Secretary of State. Boards’ of elections cannot tabulate any absentee ballots prior to 7:31 p.m. on election day. Each board must upload vote totals for absentee ballots by 8 p.m. unless the voting system technology is unable to do so. Election night reporting starts with all boards of elections first uploading of absentee results by 8 p.m., and results will continue to be uploaded at assigned times until all precincts have reported their results. The results released on election day after polls close are considered unofficial.
Ballots that are postmarked by November 2nd and arrive at the board of elections by November 13th will be counted in the final vote tally in Ohio. Boards of elections can begin tallying the official canvass on November 14th and final official results and reports are due to the Ohio Secretary of State no later than 2:00 p.m. on November 24th. Any recounts for the election of presidential electors must be completed no later than December 8th. An automatic recount for votes for president would be triggered.
Looking at the reports from the election and depending on how states reported votes, typically mail-in ballots were mainly on the democratic side. On the other hand, most of the in-person votes and early in-person votes were on the republican side.
On election night there were news channels broadcasting the votes and predicting which candidate will win a state as the reports come in. News channels predict a winner based on past state views of the candidates, and the first reports from the states. When there is an overwhelming majority of votes for one candidate from one state they can usually project a winner accurately for that specific state. This is why early in the night on election day most of the states were heading blue because most states entered mail-in ballots before in person, then we saw that some states shifted red and then the polls worked themselves out from there. However, this was not the case for all states. For example, Indiana has always been a very conservative state, so news broadcasts could predict that the state of Indiana would be going red this election. The same goes for the democratic side of the election. The state of California has always been very liberal, so news channels predicted the state would go blue this election. Then there were also some states, like Ohio for example, that are a swing state and there are no true overwhelming conservative or liberal views that are consistent.
By the end of the night on Tuesday, there was still no true answer to who would run our country for the next four years. Biden had won the majority of states around the coasts. Some of his biggest winnings include California and New York. Trump had won most of the more rural areas along with areas inside the coasts. His biggest winnings of the night were Florida, Texas, and Ohio. This shows that usually larger cities and more populated areas are more democratic, and more rural and less populated areas are on the republican side of the election.
After election day, states that had not been counted for, election officials continued to submit votes. Finally on Saturday, November 7th, four days after the initial election, Joe Biden won the race and surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election. As of November 7, 2020, Joe Biden was announced President Elect of the United States, but there are still suspicions and perceptions about the integrity of the ballots. The question is, are these suspicions actually founded or those of a president that refuses to accept defeat?
Go check out the live 2020 election results and see for yourself which candidate won each state. Are you happy with the result of the election? Or are you questioning the honesty of the election?