2020 is full of unusual experiences, and the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election kept up with that trend. In previous years, mail-in ballots only made up about ¼ of all votes in presidential elections. But with COVID-19 and the need for social distancing at polling centers, local governments were forced to get creative about how and where their citizens could vote. Many of them did this by:
Expanding the mail-in ballot process
Placing ballot drop boxes in secure locations
Brainstorming open-air polling centers, including ones that could open for early voting
Many sports stadiums around the country were turned into polling locations. They made ideal hosts, as they are built to accommodate large crowds, have lots of open-air spaces, and public transportation to them is already in place.
Many opened several days before Election Day, so that voters could beat the crowds and have more room to spread out.
And these combined strategies worked! Over 161 million American voted in this November’s election, more than any U.S. Presidential Election in history, and 100 million of them voted early. This helped Election Day run more smoothly for those who voted in person, and brought down the coronavirus risk. Here’s hoping that local governments keep up this practice in the future. After all, what’s more American than democracy and baseball? But with all those votes to count, Election Night turned into Election Week. Local governments control when poll workers can start to count votes, so not all early votes could be counted early. In some places, they were counted as soon as they arrived. In others, they could not be opened and counted until Election Day. After the initial counts on Tuesday and Wednesday, the country was forced to wait as more results trickled slowly in. The press was extremely cautious about calling a winner too soon, and was very careful with any new information they received. Thursday and Friday’s news moved slowly, and the internet was full of folks expressing their frustration at the wait.
But in the end, on Saturday, November 7th, Joe Biden was declared the 46th President-Elect. While some final votes are still being counted, there are not enough of them to sway the outcome of the election. The announcement of his win brought much of the country to the streets to celebrate.
President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris are already working towards their initial phases of the transition plan to take office on January 20, 2021.
Curious to learn more about the U.S. election? Join us for our "Discover the US" Virtual Weekend Course in December!