Here is the rub, we’re in tense, dangerous times. We all feel it, a sense of unease blowing on the wind from who knows where. We don’t know what will come in the weeks following election day Nov. 3.
Absentee voting has been around for years, but the pandemic has caused a new swath of residents looking to vote remote. In New York state, boards of elections will not even begin to count absentee ballots until Nov. 6, and that process could take weeks to finish, especially if this year’s Democratic primary is anything to go by. Some experts have said we could not see the final results until December.
Due to this, sites like FiveThirtyEight, which often analyses election polling, said New York may initially skew Republican and then edge Democratic as more absentee ballots are counted.
Effectively, as we look at the preliminary results in the days after Tuesday, we have to remember that nothing is set in stone, especially this year.
It’s only fair that every person who voted in this year’s election is counted, no matter which way they may have voted. Anything else would be undemocratic, and nobody can judge another for deciding to stay home and cast a ballot by mail, especially if they or a person in their family is in the high-risk category for getting COVID-19.
Despite this, President Donald Trump (R) has continually called absentee votes into question, despite the likely fact that many of the people voting for him have cast absentee ballots, and that he himself has voted by mail, specifically by giving it to a third-party individual to return. He has even suggested legal action to mandate only the votes counted by Election Day are applied.
We’ve been trained to want our results election night, but no state has ever fully counted every ballot on the first Tuesday in November. Some states, like North Carolina, are counting absentee ballots that arrive as late as Nov. 12.
And lacking any bombshell reports of vote mismanagement, we have to trust the system. New York’s process double checks each absentee ballot to make sure the person also did not vote in person. Voter fraud remains rare, and multiple states use mail-in ballots as the primary way people can vote in local, state and federal elections.
And what should we expect in those days after? Are we really going to see violence? Will people really accept the outcome of this year’s election? That’s the real question, and as we write this editorial for an issue that comes out two days after the initial results, we cannot say what’s on the horizon.
We urge everyone to stay safe and stay sane. We’re all looking for someone to take the lead in asking for calm, but it seems we should be looking to those in education for a guiding light. Stony Brook University’s new President Maurie McInnis wrote: “While we wait for the results, we are bound to be anxious and tense. Practice patience, extend courtesy and be considerate. When results do come, given the variety of political affiliations that are part of our strength as a diverse community, some are bound to feel elation while others will be disappointed and distressed. I encourage you to reach for empathy. Reach for critical understanding. Reach for the profound combination of caring and intelligence.”
We know tensions will be high, we know the national news will be covering unrest in different parts of the country, but we want to believe our communities have the right mindset to move forward, and that we can stifle the most radical voices with a bulwark of civic mindedness and a sense of neighborly compassion.