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After a long year that has been consumed by a worldwide pandemic, heightened racial tensions and an increasingly divided world of politics, the long awaited Election Day had finally arrived.
Nov. 3 marked the beginning of a four-day long affair where over 149 million Americans’ ballots were counted. On Saturday, Nov. 7, a winner had finally been announced: former vice president Joseph R. Biden would become the next president of the United States.
Cities throughout the country were filled with people celebrating in their streets, excited for a new and hopeful change that may come our way in the next four years. However, during those four long days, many were left anxiously waiting for the most important swing states to count their ballots.
Voting-by-mail was a popular method of casting ballots this year, as nearly 50.3 percent of the total votes were mailed-in, according to the Pew Research Center, but this is what created the unusually long delay.
Fortunately, some states such as Michigan approved of early ballot counting for any votes that were mailed in to speed up the process, but states like Pennsylvania only allowed letters to be opened up on the day of the election.
Most of the mail-in ballots were being tallied in the final days of the election after the election day votes had been counted, and since most of them were going towards Biden, President Trump went on the attack and claimed there was widespread voter fraud occurring.
Since the night of the election, many of his claims on Twitter have been disputed or marked as “misleading,” and his actions encouraged a large number of his supporters to spread these inaccurate messages, such as with “dump ballots” in Shiawassee County, Michigan, where a technical error accidentally gave Biden 138,399 votes.
The error was fixed within 20 minutes, but it was too late as conservative political consultant Matt Mackowiak’s tweet showing the mistake spread around the Internet like wildfire. Mackowiak has since deleted the tweet.
Along with the inaccurate claims, President Trump prematurely declared victory early in the morning after Election Day. In his appearance, he also stated that he would be taking the election to the Supreme Court and requesting them to stop vote counting, though there is no legal reason for him to contest the results or request the court to stop ballot counting.
“We want the law to be used in a proper manner, so we’ll be going to the US Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop,” explained Trump.
While the Supreme Court may not be interfering with the counting, the Trump campaign has continuously filed lawsuits since the election, of which nearly 60 have been dropped.
In addition to all this, President Trump still has yet to concede, which has made many wonder whether he will allow for a peaceful transition out of office. The president did not give the traditional congratulatory phone call to Biden, and instead continued his claims that he won into the following weeks after the election was called.
As of early January, President Trump spoke with the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger over a phone call in a last-minute effort to “find 11,780 votes,” a number that would give him a victory in the state, but not create an overall win in the election.
At least 12 Republicans in the Senate have also planned to contest the election by objecting the elector votes on Jan. 6. Many Senate Republicans, including Senate leader Mitch McConnell, oppose this attempt at pushing back the ratification, since it not only delays the process, but it also undermines free elections in the United States.
Despite the claims of victory and unwillingness to concede by President Trump and his allies, Biden fairly won the election, especially after the electors cast their ballots and finalized the electoral votes on Dec. 14.
This was President-elect Biden’s third time running for this office, and he did so with great success. Biden received over 77 million votes, which is the most that any candidate has ever received in the history of our nation. Additionally, he will become the oldest president to enter office at 78 years of age, a record formerly held by President Trump who was 70 at the time.
Biden’s vice-presidential pick will be making history as well. Prior to joining Biden’s presidential campaign, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was the Calif. attorney general and a US senator. Now Harris will become the first female, Indian-American and Black vice president to hold this office, a move that many Americans feel has been long awaited.
“I think it is truly amazing that so many girls around the globe were able to witness Kamala Harris’ acceptance speech where she said: ‘But while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.’ Kamala Harris has opened that door for so many other minorities by becoming the first female, Indian-American, and Black vice president to hold that office,” said senior Lauren Davis.
While Biden and Harris both share this monumental victory, they did not win by a landslide that many were expecting. Both Biden and Trump surpassed the former record for most votes, held by former President Barack Obama in the 2008 election. Around 47 percent of the total votes ended up going to Trump, which means that nearly half of the country may still have worries over Biden’s presidency and specific stances he and his party have on current issues, such as with policing in America, an issue that has been in the spotlight this year. Many feel that Biden’s stance on policing is not enough to ensure there will be improvement in the system to protect against racial targeting, while there are others who believe his plans will negatively impact policing by not providing the proper safety for cops and continuing attacks on the policing system as a whole.
“I worry that he [Biden] is going to change police departments and policies for the worst and put our officers in more danger than they already are,” said senior Matthew Hull.
With this in mind, it will be necessary for President-elect Biden to make it a goal to reunify the nation and make decisions that benefit both sides of the aisle. In his victory speech given on Nov. 7 in Delaware, Biden spoke to both sides of America, attempting to make an appeal to those who voted for Trump.
“And for those who voted for President Trump, I understand your disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple elections myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance,” said Biden.
Biden will need to do more than talk about his hopes for unity. After several years of unfulfilled promises, the American people will be expecting change that will impact them in a positive way. One of the key reasons for Biden’s win was because of a Democratic form of solidarity in which they would “settle for Biden” because they wanted President Trump to be a single-term president. This was a popular message among new Generation Z voters, an age demographic that typically swings blue.
This means his plans for the next four years will have to benefit many groups in America, which may be difficult to accomplish, especially if Republicans regain the Senate, which will be decided in a Georgia runoff race in January. Biden will not only have to appeal to Generation Z with more progressive plans, but he will also need to win over the Republican middle class as well as those who voted for President Trump.
“If everything concludes and Biden ends up as president I hope that he truly will unify the nation and always have the care of the American people in his best interest,” continued Hull.
No matter where you lie on the political spectrum, it is important to recognize reality now, which means that we as a nation need to come together and work towards a better state of union. Joe Biden will be our president for the next four years, and it should be a priority of the American nation to unify and create progress to fulfill the promise of the United States.