2020 Election Season comes to a close

President-Elect Joseph Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris celebrate their victory.

Photo courtesy of reuters.com

President-Elect Joseph Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris celebrate their victory.

The 2020 presidential election was one of the most historic elections in U.S. history, as it welcomes its first female and person of color as the Vice President-Elect. The nation will also set a new milestone as President-Elect Joseph Biden Jr. will be the oldest person elected into the presidency. However, this November was not without its typical anxiety and tension. The impact of COVID-19 on the methods by which U.S. citizens were able to submit their votes caused an uproar.

While Election Day was on November 3rd, people watched locally and globally for the polls to close and votes to be counted into Friday, November 6th. With all eyes on the United States, people from all over waited with baited breath as the votes came in. In the end, it was Democratic nominee Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris who won both the popular vote by 4.6 million votes and the Electoral College with 290 electoral votes. With the final results locked in, individuals all over reflect on the outcome and the reality it represents.

Political Science department head Professor Carly Hayden Foster predicted that the election would be more drawn out than normal years.

“I was predicting we wouldn’t know until at least Friday,” Foster said. “The presidential election wasn’t actually that close. The popular vote difference is well over four million people, so it’s not like one candidate won the popular vote and were fiddling with the Electoral College.”

This has caused some at Luther to question how democratic the electoral college is. After Donald Trump won the 2016 election without securing the popular vote, a new conversation about whether or not the Electoral College has a place in modern democracy erupted. Politics in the United States continue to evolve with the people and the world.
Vice President of the Luther College Democrats and current student Cassie Kaminsky (‘22) reflects on the Electoral College and believes it might be time for a change.

“The Electoral College needs to be abolished and changed to a system based solely on the popular vote,” Kaminsky said. “Instead of the American people directly voting for the President of the United States, they are voting for the 538 electors who ultimately choose the President and don’t always reflect the will of the American People. Additionally, the Electoral College overemphasizes the votes of rural Americans and under-represents those in urban areas.”

Local elections in Iowa and in Winneshiek County were less contentious. Republican Joni Ernst kept her Senate seat, defeating Democrat Theresa Greenfield by just under 7 points, or 110,000 votes. Republican House Representative Ashley Hinson won against Democrat Abby Finkenaur in Decorah’s district by about 10,000 votes, Republican Michael Klimesh (‘91) beat Democrat Matt Tapscott for State Senate, and Republican incumbent Michael Bergan (‘84) won against Democrat Kayla Koether for Iowa House of Representatives for the second election in a row. The first time Koether and Bergan went head to head, in 2018, the margin was a total of nine votes. This year it was over 1400 votes.

“I expected local elections to be close,” Foster said. “But I had no idea what the outcome would be.” she added that “recounts are definitely likely across the country” due to demands from President Trump as well as other Republican voters.

There was one Iowa ballot measure this year on whether a constitutional convention should be held to determine if any changes to the Iowa constitution are necessary. Overwhelmingly, Iowans said no. Maxwell Koeller (‘24) disagreed.

“I voted yes,” Koeller said. “Constitutions and documents that mandate governing should constantly be scrutinized and updated.”

On this issue, Koeller is among the minority of Iowa voters. Only 29.6% of Iowans who voted agree with him. It is important to note that a lack of support for constitutional changes means continuing to keep things like the Electoral College as they are.

“To get rid of the Electoral College would be difficult, because you have to change the Constitution,” Foster said. “But states could decide to give up the winner-takes-all system to take the teeth of the Electoral College out of the system.”

Despite this, many voters at Luther and in the broader United States are relieved by the closing of the election, and look to the future for progress to be made in areas like the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice.

“Regardless of who people voted for, a sense of relief will set in now that the election season is over,” Foster said. “Now we can continue to deal with more pressing matters like COVID-19.”