A Country Divided: UNI reacts to Election Day

Toni Fortmann
Voters wait in a socially distanced line to get their change to vote in the election on the UNI campus.

EMMA'LE MAAS, Executive Editor

In the age of the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest, nothing in 2020 is typical, and that goes to show in the 2020 election as well. 

Nationwide, a presidential candidate is still uncertain as of press time, while thousands of mail-in and absentee ballots are still being counted in several key states such as Nevada and Georgia. 

Some states, such as Pennsylvania, have until Friday, Nov. 6 to report their numbers, after a battle in the courts decided to give them more time. 

A key component in the delay has to do with these court decisions, as states such as Michigan were not allowed to begin counting ballots until Election Day. In North Carolina, courts decided they had until Nov. 12 to count all of the ballots, including those postmarked by 5 p.m on Election Day.

Michelle Guihen, a sophomore marketing and sales management major, hopes this election may teach officials to allow early counting. 

“I understand because a lot of people voted early or had their ballots sent in, so I know it’s going to take a long time, but if it’s known to take a long time then I think it should start a little earlier,” Guihen said. 

Allie Zapata, a senior biology major, hopes the mail-in and absentee ballots help her side.

“The delay is something that was to be expected, and I’m just really hoping that all of the absentee ballots that are still being counted turns some things over,” she said.

Nicole Iradukunda, a senior public relations major, is nervous about the delay in results.

“It’s making people anxious about what’s next for the country,” she said.

Still, she’s positive about what the delay means.

“It’s kind of nice to see everybody who voted and that’s why it’s taking so long to count,” she said. “It’s a good thing that everybody took this opportunity to vote.”

Eric Ramos, a senior biology biomedical major was slightly surprised by the results that have came in.

“I always had the hope that America was tired of everything, and I didn’t think the election would be this close,” Ramos said.

He also expressed his disappointment in Iowa’s results, which have been finalized. Joni Ernst, the incumbent U.S. Senator, will remain in office, and in District 1, Democratic Representative Abby Finkenauer was unseated by former KCRG reporter and Republican Ashley Hinson. 

According to the Associated Press, both races were close; Ernst beat out Democrat Theresa Greenfield by just over six points, specifically 110,376 votes. The House race was even closer, with Hinson winning with just over a two point lead and 10,759 votes. In Iowa, Trump won by an eight point lead and 138,706 votes.

UNI professor of political science Chris Larimer, who also serves as the political analyst for KWWL, spoke to the Northern Iowan about the races and the Democrats’ struggle to gain votes in Iowa. 

“On a county-by-county base, from the presidential race to the U.S. Senate race and the Congressional race all the way down to the state legislative races, it’s down to that point where it’s hard to find a Democrat from a rural area who is elected to the state house,” Larimer said.

This divide proved itself as Biden only won six counties in Iowa, the same six counties won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. Obama had previously garnered 52 Iowa counties in 2008 and 37 in 2012. 

Larimer continued, “It can be done, but for whatever reason, the last three election cycles, really starting in 2010, Democrats really struggled to make inroads into rural counties, and the divide just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

Ramos said, “I would think that Iowans would take this more seriously, they would be more angry about how we handled COVID-19, how the government has handled COVID-19, so I’m really disappointed.”

Guihen also expressed her frustration with how close the race is.

“I feel like it’s been so on and off, like everytime you check it’s most of the country is red, or it’s blue,” she said. “I just hope they can finally make a decision.”

Guihen, who is originally from the Chicago suburbs and chose to vote in Illinois versus Iowa, noticed the differences of the political atmosphere between the two states amongst her peers. 

“It’s definitely eye-opening. It’s definitely a different political view from where I’m from,” she said. “It’s helped me a lot with understanding both sides and perspectives.” 

Both Biden and Trump gave speeches in the late evening of Nov. 3. However, they shared different messages. 

Biden stated, “Keep the faith… it ain’t over until every vote is counted,” in Wilmington, Del., while waving to a crowd of cars honking away.

President Trump stated, “As far as I’m concerned, we’ve already won,” and discussed his plans to argue voting counts all the way to the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. 

Ramos felt the former Vice President’s speech was uplifting.

“The message of hope is what we need right now, and just telling Americans that we need to be patient,” he said.

Zapata expressed her disappointment with the President’s speech.

“Like the rabbit and the turtle thing, don’t just be arrogant and accept victory when it could easily be turned around,” she said.

Ramos was also disappointed in the way the President handled his speech.

“It’s very irresponsible, that as a leader of a democracy that you’re not really supposed to say ‘dump the votes,’” he said. “You really shouldn’t be doing that because that’s how people lose faith in the system, and that’s how you get, essentially, chaos.”

Larimer evaluated the effect the President’s rhetoric may have in the future. 

“Long-term, that could be a problem if people have no confidence in the election or one side believes that a particular way of voting is fraudulent when it’s not,” he said.  “That has the potential to really undermine future elections as well as patterns of voting in terms of the likelihood of people voting if they don’t trust the system.”

After a long day of awaiting results, the former Vice President took to the stage again on Nov. 5, stating, “In the past, only three presidential campaigns have defeated the incumbent president. God willing, we’ll be the fourth.”

In response to the current president’s threat of litigation, Biden responded, “We the people will not be silenced, we the people will not be bullied…. We will not be the presidency of the red and blue states, we will be the president of all states.” 

Larimer hopes the American people remain calm and positive during the wait.

“Everything is so polarized right now,” he said. “There was a lot of emotional buildup to Election Day yesterday, but I think if voters can be patient, let the process work the way it’s supposed to… just be patient and take a deep breath.”

Ramos is disheartened no matter what the results are, due to the closeness of the race.

“We may have a political win if Joe Biden wins, but it’s a moral loss,” he said. “The morality battle is lost because it shouldn’t have been this close in the first place. As a Hispanic male, as a gay male, it is very disheartening to see someone who doesn’t value a lot of my identity or a lot of the identities here is doing so well. It’s kind of just frustrating.”