from The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
Balzer + Bray, 2017
Coretta Scott King, Honor Award
Much is at stake, locally and nationally, less than one month away from the General Election. And that Election is already underway.
Due to many people feeling unsafe in large crowds, lots of us are choosing to use a mail-in ballot. So far, ballots have been sent to voters in twelve states and over two million have already been cast. Today, Ohio’s first day of early voting, the Board of Elections in Ohio will mail absentee ballots to registered voters who requested them.
For so many reasons, this year is not a normal year.
Now we learn that the president, the first lady, and many family members and close advisors and staff have contracted COVID-19. Depending which source you read or listen to, the president is doing well, or not.
But we should care. I know “should” is not always appropriate, but this time, it is. While I feel skeptical of the news, more or less so depending on the source, it is important to be aware.
I had some “what-if” questions, so Google, here I come. According to USNews, https://www.usnews.com/news/top-news/articles/2020-10-02/what-happens-to-the-us-presidential-election-if-a-candidate-dies-or-becomes-incapacitated it is possible, but unlikely to postpone an election even if a presidential candidate becomes incapacitated.
The rules to determine a replacement nominee are complicated and cumbersome. It is likely too late for a replacement to be chosen, should that become necessary.
So, on November 3, if the date is not changed, the public will vote for (or against) Trump or Biden, even if one of them dies before November 3.
Our elections are complicated, too.
When we cast our ballots for President, early or in person, we are instructing our Electors who we want them to vote for.
Thousands of people are chosen as delegates based on the vote tally from each state’s Primary Election or Caucus. The delegates, representing their particular party, vote during their respective Party’s Nominating Convention (this year held virtually on back-to-back weeks this past August). Once the Party’s Conventions have taken place and the nominees are chosen by the delegates, we’re ready for the General Election and then the Electoral College.
The Electoral College is that body which actually votes for our candidates. Each state has laws for how Electors are chosen. Generally they are party faithfuls, committed to their respective Political Parties. Most states require faithfulness, but there are no consequences for failure to comply. Consequently, each Elector usually votes for his or her Party’s nominee.
Each state has a number of Electors equal to the number of the state’s Representatives plus 2, one for each Senator. Washington DC has three Electors, the minimum allowed since they have no representation in the Senate. The candidate needs a simple majority of the 538 Electoral votes (270), to win the election. (U.S. citizens residing in U.S. territories can not vote for president.) https://www.usa.gov/who-can-vote
The Electoral College meets on Dec. 14 to vote for president.
The votes are counted in Congress on January 6. States with larger populations have more Electors making it possible for a candidate to win the overall popular vote but not win the electoral vote. Lots of states with only 3 or a few Electors can add up to a majority of Electors. That’s what happened in 2016.
In short, our Presidential Election is complicated. It is a several-step process, beginning with the Primaries and delegates and ending with the Electoral College and Inauguration on January 20.
- Primary elections and caucuses take place in the states beginning in February. Delegates are chosen.
- Delegates choose their party’s nominee at the Party Conventions during the summer.
- Electors are appointed by the Parties.
- The General Election is held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
- The Electoral College meets and votes on December 14.
- Votes are counted in Congress on January 6.
- Inauguration is held on January 20.
Most of the time we know the winner of the election on Election Night. This year, because of many complications, some I have addressed, some I’m still thinking about, we probably won’t know.
Remember three things which are really true.
1. Lots of mail-in votes need to be counted. Some states do not
allow counting to begin until the end of Election Day..
2. The Electoral College does not meet until December 14.
3. Congress does not certify the vote count until January 6.
Each person’s vote carries weight. Remember, the Electors of each state pledge to vote as the people voted. So when the tally of popular votes in Ohio goes to a particular candidate, that candidate doesn’t get each person’s vote, but does get the total Electoral votes, 18. (Only Maine and Nebraska split their Electoral votes. Maine has 5 and Nebraska 4.)
Here are a few things to think about.
Although real people are running for office, the election is not
about them. It’s about us.
Elections are about standing up for the ideals we believe in.
Think about the Supreme Court. Think hard. The President appoints
Justices. Their decisions impact our personal freedoms.
Change begins with voting. The path to reform is not perfect, but
we can’t give up.
When more people exercise their constitutional right to cast a ballot in a Presidential election, the more influence we, as individuals will have.
If you need a ride to your polling place consider Lyft. They are offering a 50% fare reduction if you use their code. Scroll to the bottom of the page.
-—stay curious! (and be patient)