Back to Normal | Wis.Community

Back to Normal

November 4, 2020 - 11:09am
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Normal in this case is referring to the website, not to anything else. Like many of you, I stayed up late last night - just long enough to hear the President of the United States threaten democracy. And to see that the election is going to be with us for some time in the future. I intended to leave the site in election mode until the national elections seemed clear, but that is clearly far off in the future, and there are other things to talk about in the interim. The election page still exists, and will continue to be updated at https://www.wis.community/election2020 - or just click on the Election 2020 link at the top of the site.

Let's be clear. Election results are never final on election day. The practice of attempting to declare a winner on election night is a recent confection cooked up by the media. It is a particularly odd construct in this year, when in many states over half of the votes came in before the election. They came in first, they got counted last. And they are still being counted.

To hear the President say that "voting needs to stop" on election day is completely wrong. Voting stopped locally in every state yesterday at their poll closing time. But the process of counting votes has not ended, and it never does neatly end at 8 PM on election day. 

In any case, votes that are reported on election day are always unofficial counts. Votes only become official after they are canvassed and the states declare them to be official counts. We have a wildly non-uniform voting system in our country, and the rules and cutoff dates are different in every state. Technically it will be some time in December before votes are "official" everywhere in the country. The adrenaline-filled rush to find a winner is exciting, and it almost always works in modern times when we have computers and the internet to push results around at lightning speed. But that is not working today, where races are very close in many states, and the voting process was made very complex by the pandemic. Normally I always vote in person when possible because I love the feeling of pushing that ballot into the machine and making my wishes known. Not this year. I voted absentee not so much because I was afraid of voting in the Downsville Town Hall (which I visited yesterday just to see that things were going smoothly), but because I was afraid I might be sick on election day and not be able to vote. I'm sure many people felt the same no matter how they were voting. It is just part of the ever-stranger 2020 game plan. And it's not surprising that this also forced a strange 2020 vote count.

So please - be patient. We'll know the answer eventually. When we know it, a lot of people will be profoundly disappointed. And a lot of people will be angry. We need to get past that as a country. Please help by being kind and decent to your fellow citizens, no matter how this falls.

This democracy thing is messy. It has warts, and it often really is like watching sausage being made. It becomes more like that every election, it seems. It's not a perfect system, but it is the one we all agreed on. Be thankful, it works better than most.

While I'm being thankful - Thanks to all of the candidates who ran, whether I agreed with your policies or not. Sticking your neck out takes courage, strength, and an incredible amount of stamina. And if you didn't win this time, there's always a chance for a re-match. Also thanks to everyone who worked to support their candidates and their party. I didn't always agree with some of the methods used, but I know you all worked long hard hours for something you believed in. 

Lastly - thank you to all of the people who make elections work. This includes the government officials who oversee the elections, and the poll workers. All of you are still plugging away after a very long night. You make democracy rock. 

I also need to say that, despite all of the posts I have seen in social media for the past 9 months - It is now November 4, and I am still hearing about the pandemic. It's not gone. It's getting worse day by day. And I have media calls to attend on the virus and on the election. Life goes on. Please, everyone, do your best to make it go on in a better way.

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