NEW YORK—Election Day became election week in 2020.
After three contentious presidential debates, it all came down to the vote of the American people. The ticket featured the incumbents, President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Michael R. Pence, and the challengers, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Senator Kamala Harris from California.
Harris, who became the first black woman, and the first woman, to be nominated as a vice presidential candidate, ran against Biden during the Democratic primary.
In many states, like here in New York, people had the option to vote early. The early voting period in New York lasted from Oct. 24 until Nov. 1.
Early voting was designed to make the polls on election day less crowded, due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19. On each day of early voting, however, the line stretched multiple blocks from the polling site. The average wait time was two to three hours.
In the days leading up to Nov. 3, there was considerable concern in New York and other major cities like Philadelphia on account of the prospect of violent protests.
Businesses here in New York barricaded their doors and windows, sent their employees home early and closed for election day.
Late shift workers were advised to take extra precautions on their commute home.
After getting off work at 11 p.m. on election night, I took the usual route home. It was unlike any other commute I had ever taken, however.
The trains, which were usually full of commuters like me, were nearly all empty. It was a similar scene on the streets; block after block of boarded-over windows, and steel shutters. All the nighttime attractions were closed, locked and barricaded.
Through the night, into Wednesday morning, the predictably red states filled in red, and the blue states filled in blue.
“Blue Wall” states like Michigan and Wisconsin in the Midwest proved to be among the deciding variables, along with historic swing states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
Trump was off to an early lead in Pennsylvania. However, the Keystone State was one of the last states to complete the ballot count, due to the record number of mail-in ballots.
According to state law, mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania could even be opened, let alone counted, until election day.
As the mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania were counted, Trump’s lead grew slimmer and slimmer, and in the end, Biden claimed a narrow victory.
President Trump claimed most of the day-of votes in the battleground states. However, in nearly all of them, the surge of support from the mail-in and absentee ballots was enough for Biden to eventually win.
In the early morning hours on Friday, Biden led 253 to 214, with five states (AZ, NV, PA, GA and NC) still not called. Trump held leads in Georgia and North Carolina, while Biden led in the two western states.
While the race in Georgia became tighter, and was eventually won by Joe Biden, Pennsylvania had still not reported enough votes to call. As the remainder of the mail-in, provisional and absentee ballots were counted in the remaining states, Biden’s lead in those states slowly but surely grew.
On Friday night into the early hours of Saturday morning, Nevada and Arizona both officially went to Joe Biden, putting him at 264 electoral votes.
With his opponent only six votes from 270 and the presidency, Trump began making claims that the election was being “rigged.” The president claimed that Republican poll watchers were not being allowed access to the ballot counting precincts.
“They’re trying to commit fraud. There’s no question about that,” Trump said in an address from the White House.
So far, there is no evidence of voter fraud, or poll watchers from either party being denied access to the counting stations.
Former Governor of New Jersey and longtime friend and advisor to Trump, Chris Christie, told ABC News that the burden of proof lies on the president.
“It’s his right to pursue legal action,” Christie said. “But show us the proof.”
Christie’s criticism of Trump’s unfounded claims of voter fraud came after several of his lawsuits on the issue had already been thrown out.
Finally, on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 7, Joe Biden won Pennsylvania, and was projected to be the president-elect. In what seemed like an instant, the scene here in New York shifted dramatically. A parade of cars, motorcycles, bikes and pedestrians lined seventh avenue as far as one could see.
You could not hear yourself speak or think over the honking horns, the bells and the cheers from the Biden, Harris faithful. People screaming to “We Are the Champions” as well as chants of “USA!” filled the air.
“I am so proud of the American people for choosing democracy over dictatorship,” Robert Hoatson of West Orange, N.J. told the Courier.
“I was thrilled when I saw Biden won, and to have Kamala Harris and all that she represents is just so magnificent.”
All throughout New York on Saturday, you could not miss the Biden, Harris signs, and swarms of American flags.
Biden and Harris addressed the nation for the first time as president- and vice president-elect from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. on Saturday night.
Harris spoke first, thanking and acknowledging the hard work of the pioneers of social and racial justice who paved the way to this moment.
She thanked figures such as Harriett Tubman and the late Congressman and civil rights champion, John Lewis. Harris emphasized what an important moment this was in the history of our nation, being a woman of color, and the first woman vice president in history.
“Even though I may be the first, I won’t be the last,” Harris said.
President-elect Biden declared that now is the time for our nation to heal. As he has so many times during his campaign Biden said, “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify, who sees neither red states nor blue states, but the United States.”
Biden also thanked his wife, Jill, and his son, Hunter, who were in attendance, along with the rest of his family.
Georgia and North Carolina have still not been called. Trump is currently leading in North Carolina, and Biden possesses a narrow lead in Georgia. However, a victory in either of those states would be too little too late for President Trump. The President reportedly will move forward with his legal challenges of the election results.
According to the New York Times, Trump’s own legal advisors called the challenges ‘a long shot at best.’ At this time, his accusations of voter fraud and a rigged election remain to be substantiated.
The 2020 election featured the largest voter turnout in the history of the United States. Joe Biden received over 74 million votes, the most of any U.S. presidential candidate ever. A total of more than 148.5 million ballots were counted during this historic and unforgettable election week.
Editor’s note: News Editor Nick Stein reports this story from New York City. As with many college newspapers dealing with COVID-19, the Stroud Courier’s editors and writers now do their work from locations across the region.
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