What is at Stake in the US Elections

As Americans head to the polling stations to give their verdict in a historic election, many questions remain unanswered as to what will decide the outcome.

Posted on 10/3/20
By Jehangir Khattak | MatrixMag
(Photo by Gilbert Mercier, CC license)

Many are asking around the world as to what is at stake in America’s most consequential election in recent history. To Joe Biden, American democracy is at stake. To President Donald Trump, Americans’ prosperity and liberty is at stake and to the American voters, its way much more than the two questions. So, what will decide the 2020 elections? Will it be the anxiety over the explosive increase in Coronavirus cases, the economic revival, election transparency, the stalled healthcare and immigration reforms, the strained race relations or America’s global leadership?

Traditionally, American election outcomes have overwhelmingly been impacted by the economic performance of a president seeking second term or his challenger. But this time it’s a bit different. The COVID-19 pandemic, being the biggest public health crisis in a century, is taking the centerstage. Some are even calling the ballot a referendum on President Trump’s handling of the crisis.

So, is that the reason that more Americans have exercised their right to vote in record numbers before November 3 – more than 86 million so far? Partly yes because COVID-19 is not just one reason driving Americans to the early voting in droves never seen before. American voters know that a new leadership in the White House or maintaining the status quo can lead the country in completely different directions. Similarly, a shift in the party balance in the House of Representative and Senate carry amplifying consequences for American policy and politics. That’s why races are extremely tight, especially for the 35 Senate seats, off which Republican candidates are defending 23. So all eyes are on the Senate races because many analysts are not discounting the possibility of Senate flipping in Democrats’ favor, who need four seats to regain its control. The House is expected to stay under Democrats control. With such high stakes, American voters’ speaking up through their record turnout and effort to be heard and counted is not surprising.

But will their vote be counted? President Trump fears vote fraud on November 3 and has refused to acknowledge that he will accept the results. Like many Americans, he expects the election results to be in, may be days after the polling. American intelligence community’s reports of interference from Russia, China and Iran aside, systemic failures in the vote count machinery are almost a forgone conclusion, at least for the mail-in-ballot. Many experts warn that election machinery may not be designed for dealing with such a high mail-in ballot, more than 54 million already in.

The emerging fear is that this election could be the most contested in recent memory. The fight for each vote is already on. More than 350 lawsuits have been filed across the country over how, when and where voters could cast their vote.

Rules in some states don’t allow election staff to start the labor-intensive task of processing mail-in ballots until Election Day. And the record number of incoming mail-in ballots could delay final tallies for several days.

In six key states — Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina — the margin of victory is expected to be so slim that it may be hard to know who won until their mail ballots are fully counted.

It takes 270 electoral votes to secure the White House — these states account for 101 combined. The presidential elections are decided by the Electoral college of 538 electors. The electoral college has a total of 538 electors. Each state is assigned the same number of electors as it has the representation in the House of Representatives (435 seats) and Senate (100 seats). The Washington District of Columbia is assigned 3 electoral votes.

Election officials in the swing states of Michigan and Pennsylvania say it may take a few days before results are tallied in full. Officials in Arizona, Florida and North Carolina, where mail-in ballots can be processed far in advance, are expecting to have results more quickly. violence

President Trump wants quicker elections results, and like his support base, he prefers in-person polling. This is one of the reasons, more Democrats have cast their vote by mail so far than the Republicans. Historically, a higher voter turnout has benefitted the Democrats. If the final tally favors the Democrats, will the win the White House, even though a possibility, but not a foregone conclusion.

While American voters get ready for November 3, the country’s law enforcement agencies are getting ready to deal with the possible demonstrations and even election-related violence. In Washington DC, city and law enforcement officials are bracing for two possible scenarios: clashes on the streets and at polling stations. Shops are boarding up their windows, as authorities are getting ready for possible violent demonstrations. Even an ‘anti-climb’ wall is being built around the White House. While the fears of a messy election are growing, so are the hopes for a peaceful transition to the next presidency, despite American democracy hitting a rough patch.

This article first appeared in Matrixmag.com. Click here to go to the original.

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