Too contentious to call, the 2020 presidential election could drag on for days.
By Gabriel Arizon, Savannah Simmons, and Solomon Smith
In the tight 2020 presidential election, former Vice President Joe Biden is projected by most forecasters to win the race, though the final results may not be known for a number of days.
Biden continues to maintain a narrow lead over the incumbent with 225 electoral votes to President Donald J. Trump’s 213. Both candidates are chasing the 270 votes needed to secure the presidency and as of this reporting, with the final polls closed, several states will continue to count ballots for the next few days, making it too early to call.
Voting so far
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans chose to vote by mail rather than in person. Nearly 100 million Americans voted early this presidential election, about three-quarters of the total votes cast in the 2016 election, according to the New York Times. In California, over 12 million ballots were cast early, according to data in the U.S. Elections Project.
Trump and the Republican party have attempted to stop or discount many of those ballots, with mixed results. Trump’s attack on the postal service put the logistics behind mail-in ballots into disarray. Tuesday afternoon, the USPS failed to meet a court-imposed order to process over 300,000 ballots that had not been delivered to election offices.
“USPS’s failure to fully comply with today’s order from a federal court is unacceptable, and demonstrates precisely why oversight has been necessary to ensure that all ballots are delivered in a timely fashion,” said Samuel Spital, the litigation director at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
In Harris County, Texas, Republicans tried to invalidate ballots coming from the largely Democratic county. Republicans had attempted to throw out over 126,000 ballots during the weekend, a move that the state Supreme Court denied, according to the New York Times. Texas Republicans then sought to block Election Day drive-through voting, which the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals also denied.
“Today is a victory for Texas voters and the more than 120,000 Texans who followed the rules, made a plan to drive-in vote, and exercised their constitutional right,” said Rebecca Acuna, the Biden campaign’s Texas state director, in a statement on Twitter. “Make no mistake: this is not a partisan victory. This is a victory for voters across the country who are exercising their constitutional right to make their voices heard.”
The Senate and House of Representatives have not changed as much as expected
In the Senate race, there are a total of 35 seats up for grabs. Of those seats so far, nine are projected for Democrats and 16 for Republicans. In Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) flipped the state blue by defeating Republican incumbent Cory Gardner. Meanwhile in Alabama, Republican Tommy Tuberville turned the state red, earning a win over Democrat Doug Jones. Sen. Mitch McConnell won his seventh term in Kentucky over opponent Amy McGrath with 58 percent of the vote. Currently, Republicans have a Senate lead over Democrats, coming at 46-42, with the former needing just eight more seats to have a majority. Democrats have struggled to regain the Senate since the Obama era.
Sarah McBride (D) of Delaware became the first openly transgender state senator and the highest ranking openly transgender official in the nation, beating out Steve Washington (R).
“I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too,” tweeted McBride after her win. “As Delaware continues to face the Covid crisis, it’s time to get to work to invest in the policies that will make a difference for working families.”
Taylor Small, who ran as a Democrat and Progressive, also achieved a major milestone as the first transgender person to hold a seat in the State House of Vermont.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib all retained their seats in the House while progressive Black Lives Matter activist, Cori Bush, won the Missouri seat and will likely be welcomed into the fold. The group of women are young female progressives often called the Squad.
Although the Senate and House races are being called faster, they are also susceptible to the vote count and some races may take a day or two longer to call, while some may go into a recount which is not unusual.
What comes next
The country is in a holding pattern for the next few days as it waits for votes to be counted. Trump has spent the last few days casting doubt on the process in hopes of shutting down the vote before the popular numbers dash his hopes for a second term. He continues to do it even after the polls closed.
“We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election,” tweeted Trump. “We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!”
The country will be waiting for states to finish tallying their ballots. Many states are just slow in reporting, but some may be mired in legal processes from Trump, should he decide to sue. Once the ballots are finished there is still the matter of Trump.
Trump may sue and create a Constitutional crisis, and win the race with the help of the electoral college mechanics. The Electoral College is all or none in the majority of the country, and Trump only needs to whittle down the number of votes to win a state by less than one percent in most cases. With a close race, this means that a lawsuit in a battleground state’s district could get just enough votes tossed out to give the entire state to Trump.
Reports from Trump rallies have shown Trump’s propensity toward claiming the election is rigged and that any outcome other than a win for him is illegal. This creates a quandary because the president could very well create a constitutional crisis by declaring martial law and involving the military until the matter is resolved in court, or the polls are counted both of which could be days or weeks.
As it stands now the country will simply have to wait while states finish counting the votes to see what happens next.