By Suzannah Young
When the world woke up on Nov. 4, no one had a sure idea of what the results would be. Still, that didn’t make waiting any easier.
Junior nursing student Jazzonia Walker believes the results took longer than normal because of the complex nature of voting in this election.
“I think just because of all the different ways people could vote this time, the results came in slower,” she said.
In fact, the historic number of mail-in ballots was one of the reasons why ballots were slow to be counted. According to U.S. Elections Project, 65.4 million mail-in ballots were returned in comparison to the 35.9 million in-person votes that were counted across the country for this election.
Mail-in and absentee ballots were a big topic of debate this election season.
As stated in the New York Times, most Democrats chose to eliminate the risk for infection and spreading the disease by voting by mail. A larger number of Republicans chose to attend in-person voting.
This statistic applied differently to Barry students who attend college in a different state than where they are registered. For out-of-state students, voting in person was not an option.
Other issues with mail-in ballots arose as voter fraud and the legitimacy of the U.S. post office came into question.
Dr. Leah Blumenfeld, professor of political science at Barry, notes that mail-in ballots had to be counted according to each state’s rules regarding submission, mailing, and receipt dates.
In the state of Florida, mailed ballots had to be received prior to 7 p.m. on Election Day, except for a 10-day extension granted to overseas voters with a postmark dated on or prior-to the day of the election.
As election votes were still being counted, President Donald Trump opposed the counting of additional mail in-ballots.
For blue voters, while some experts touted a landslide for Biden evidenced by Trump’s campaign focus on states that have been unquestionably red in the past – such as Arizona - the vast majority expected the results to be close and to take several days to come through.
Junior communications student Jaylon Rogers said he was surprised by the election results.
“I knew the results of the election would be delayed, but I was actually expecting Trump to win,” Rogers said. “I was surprised that Biden came out on top.”
Part of the election’s unpredictability came from the increased polarization of party politics.
“I think the big difference between this election and a lot of the others in the past is the fact that it divided people so much,” said Ruiz. “There’s no compromise or middle ground anymore.”
Despite the divisiveness of this election, the strength of American democracy was reflected in the record-breaking number of people who voted.
According to U.S News and World Report, voter turnout this year was around 67%, which is about six percent more than it was in 2016 and is the highest turnout in over a century.
In the state of Florida alone, 1.6 million more ballots were cast in this election than in 2016, according to The Washington Post. This is a significant increase in voter turnout that was echoed in multiple states across the nation, including Minnesota, Hawaii, and Texas.
For Ruiz, one of the reasons she voted for Joe Biden was to institute better healthcare.
“It is a big issue for me, simply because a lot of it is ridiculously expensive for no reason,” Ruiz said. “Based on plans he has proposed, I think that Joe Biden will make it easier for people to access the care that they need.”
Similarly, Christopher Mitchell, a sophomore studying communications and digital media, expressed how his vote was very much dependent upon health due to the pandemic.
“The most important issue for me [in this election was] Corona,” Mitchell said. “Right now, I am really concerned about the future, and for me it’s really important that we go back to our normal lives.”
As it started to become clear that Biden was the winner of the election, Trump continued to make claims of voter fraud and illegitimacy surrounding ballot counting in multiple states.
Rogers expressed how false claims made him feel uneasy, although he claims he is still confident in the strength of the American democratic process.
“It’s weird because I have never heard of anyone protesting election results that publicly or that far ahead of time before,” Rogers said. “That’s just not how it works.”
On the other hand, some students such as Walker said they felt an overall sense of relief once the results came in.
“I was very happy when I found out that Biden had won the election,” Walker said. “I am glad that we get to have a new start – this is a new beginning for our country in a lot of ways.”