By: Nikita Vandrangi — Political Editor
The presidential race was called for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Saturday, November 7, at around 11 am. It was a historic moment for the country as Democrats rejoiced and Republicans faced the terms of their loss. Most memorable, however, was the five day wait after election night for a winner to be declared, due in part to the nature of mail in ballots in this year’s election.
Senior Yvette Nau, says she “knew that the results would not be called on election night, given the large number of mail in ballots and differing laws about counting ballots on or past election day.”
“I was definitely getting impatient by Friday because it seemed obvious that Biden would continue to hold a slim lead in the battleground states. I did understand, though, that the polarized nature of our political climate meant that news networks needed to have absolute certainty and undeniable data to make any projections,” said Nau.
Government teacher Mr. Sean O’Reilly recalled the contested 2000 election of Bush vs. Gore, stating that this year’s election really wasn’t that unusual when put in context. “Having lived through Bush v. Gore this did not strike me as strange as it might.”
“The 2000 election coming down to 500 votes in a state where 12 million votes were cast will still probably remain the most unreal presidential election outcome of our lifetimes,” said O’Reilly.
Senior Mark Starovoytov agrees that the delay was expected but expressed concerns about the ballot counting systems. “The unprecedented amount of mail-in-ballots this year were bound to cause delays and even though the primary elections in September should have highlighted what each state needed to work on, it seemed that many states were still inefficient at counting,” he added.
Senior Janelle Li says she wasn’t really paying close attention to the election in the beginning, but “after a couple of days [she] did find [herself] refreshing the electoral college map a lot more often.
When the race was called Nau says she felt a great sense of relief. “It was a massive release of all the tension I’ve been holding over the past four years, and it’s something I’ll never forget,” she said. “It was also amazing to watch the video of Kamala calling Joe and seeing the reactions of the joy in cities like NYC.”
Li echoes the sentiment about people’s reaction stating, “it was really cool seeing how happy people were through social media.”
On the other hand, Starovoytov pointed out the divisiveness of our country even in response to the election, citing hypocritical actions on both sides. “When the race was called I was not surprised by the left’s immediate putting aside of any concerns over the vote counting in crucial swing states and the right’s denial of the media’s projected election results,” he said.
While officially the race has been called for President-elect Biden, President Trump has launched a series of lawsuits to dispute the election results. Nau calls it a “hail mary” on the part of the Trump campaign. “His refusal to concede and the refusal to ensure a smooth transition are quite terrifying, because he’s undermining the democratic process,” said Nau.
Starovoytov says that President Trump is within his constitutional rights to pursue lawsuits where they see fit.“Anyone who values the integrity of our elections should have no issue with investigations being opened into the election,” he added.
O’Reilly says that this is the first time a president has refused to acknowledge the results of an election, specifically mentioning Hillary Clinton and Al Gore, both of whom called their opponents to concede the election. “I worry that we take the two centuries of work that it took to get our election integrity to this point for granted and to have a President and many in his party claiming an election is fraudulent and stolen is extremely dangerous to the continued healthy functioning of our democracy. History is littered with failed democracies and just because ours has basically worked for over 200 years is no guarantee that it will continue indefinitely,” said O’Reilly.
President Trump’s refusal to acknowledge the loss has impeded President-elect Biden’s ability to access intelligence and pandemic briefings, along with other important resources to ease the transition process. Nau admits that she wished the Trump administration would be more helpful and supportive in making the switch. “The Biden Harris team is doing the best they can under the given circumstances,” she added.
When looking into the future of the country and what a Biden Harris administration could potentially look like, O’Reilly attributes the meter of success for the Biden Harris administration to how they handle the COVID-19 pandemic and with it the economy. “Since Democrats are the party who argue that the government can do good things, if they can succeed in this way that will go a long way to making their case that this is so to the American people,” said O’Reilly.
Both Nau and Li remain hopeful but acknowledge a divided country faced with slow progress.
“Realistically though, they’re inheriting an extremely fractured country and it’s going to be very difficult for them to achieve their goals (especially if the senate is controlled by Republicans),” said Nau.
“I honestly don’t think much will change policy wise, but the image of America as a whole will be a more accepting one and hopefully both sides of the political spectrum will become more united,” said Li.