By Chelsea Wilkinson
The 2020 Election Day is less than a week away and most people in our country are feeling anxiety and dread for both the results and possible reactions to those results. General elections are usually an escalation of energy, an insane media cycle, and a restless impatience to know the results. But this election may be the most important election of our lifetime and will set the path our country will travel down for quite some time.
In “normal times” we would see November 3rd as a finish line where we would find relief from the frenzy, stress and excitement of supporting different political campaigns and voting for local, state and federal leaders and issues. But the truth is, we are not in “normal times” — we are in very unusual and precarious times. In 2020, we have endured significant division, scarcity, destitution, and injustice. These are not going away after Election Day. They may even be exacerbated. Why is this?
With COVID-19, and the significantly higher number of ballots being cast via mail, we know that several important swing states will not have a majority of votes counted by the end of Election Day. It may take weeks for some states to count every vote. This is not a sign that our system is broken, or not working, or that the results should be questioned. Rather, it is the natural result of a society in the midst of a pandemic, a pandemic that is impacting our election just like everything else. It is normal for it to take longer to get results in the times we find ourselves in this year.
However, not everyone is thinking about the 2020 election results and vote counting this way. If we take the words and warnings from President Trump at face value, he is prepared to call into question any voting results that come in late or do not favor him, and he may not comply with a peaceful transfer of power. We must avoid the trap of reacting to potential chaos post-election, and begin now to think proactively on how we can remain grounded and organized. We each must get clear on a plan for how we can help ensure a fair vote count: we must get clear on our plan to resist. By thinking about our post-election response now, before Election Day, we can prepare ourselves and our communities for how to respond if our political leaders try to sow chaos rather than calm around the election.
What might our response be?
There are two and a half months between election day and the transfer of power for the next presidential term. We must understand the key dates for final vote counts are, where the most critical counts will be taking place, and what we can do as individuals and as communities to help ensure a fair count AND a calm public response before, during and after voter counts.
An important resource for this is The Count: A Practical Guide to Defending the Constitution in a Contested 2020 Election. Authors Becky Bond and Zack Malitz wrote The Count to empower people to actively support fair voting counts and a peaceful transfer of power. Reading through The Count, we’ve been comforted and gained clarity via the process and actions it outlines: it helps people understand key post-general election dates to focus on, and identifies proactive responses to any chaos that may be instigated.
The Count is so critical to navigating the 2020 post-election cycle that Income Movement is hosting a livestream discussion with its authors prior to the election. See details and links below.
Join us. Read. Ask questions. Listen. Breathe. Make a plan. We can get through this together.
Livestream discussion - The Count: Preparing for Post Election Action. Wednesday, October 28th at 5pm PT in a conversation with the authors of The Count. Event registration here.
Chelsea Wilkinson is an Initiative Coordinator at Income Movement. Follow her on Twitter at @hellseathinks.