Armored stores, postal service vans depositing ballots at the last minute, a slow and heart-stopping count with the candidates sending messages without knowing the winner … Anxiety and catastrophism took hold this Tuesday of the electoral day in a country that lost the faith in himself.
The polarization of American society, in a year marked by a triple health, economic and social crisis, he made emotions dominate in these elections without leaving room for reason.
From criticism of the integrity of the elections without basis or foundation, to the fear of many citizens for a violent reaction to the result of the polls. In these elections, the United States did not look like the consolidated democracy that came to set the standard for the rest of the Western world.
The old electoral process in the United States, hardened for decades and imitated by many countries, has been unable to contain the earthquake caused by new phenomena such as disinformation on social networks or foreign interference through technology.
And against this hectic scene, the tragic global pandemic only contributed to the chaotic environment in which Americans voted.
FEAR OF AN OUTBREAK OF VIOLENCE
The United States came to trust so little in itself that it shielded its cities from possible outbreaks of violence that did not occur.
44% percent of California voters expected election night riots, claimed a previous survey by the University of Berkeley. At the moment there weren’t any, but just in case streets like the legendary Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills closed their entrances, filled with police officers and bricked up the buildings from top to bottom.
The capital, Washington DC, looked like a bunker on the day that should be the great party of democracy. New York, San Francisco, Austin … the big cities repeated the same pattern.
WILL MY VOTE COUNT?
Early voting was the preferred option for more than 100 million Americans. Record figure.
Most of the ballots arrived by mail, although the journey from the mailboxes to the voting centers was tortuous. The Postal Service promised to deliver the ballots on time after raising doubts about the huge deployment it required.
Thus, while citizens were voting, vans loaded with envelopes arrived at the polling stations and the representatives of the agency were updating the deliveries with the intention of calming down the spirits.
“Many people come here to deposit their envelope because they don’t trust it to arrive by mail,” a volunteer at a Los Angeles voting center told EFE.
That the president of the country, Donald Trump, pointed to the vote by mail as the basis of the electoral fraud and that the FBI, a government agency, disproved such suspicion only increased paranoia.
Even the Supreme Court had to rule on several occasions in favor of counting the votes by mail sent on time even if they arrive after the polls close, something fundamental for the states of the country where there is field between home and home and distances are abysmal.
A NIGHT OF QUESTIONS AND NOT OF RESULTS
After 4 in the morning on the east coast (09.00 GMT) neither the citizens, nor the journalists, nor the candidates knew the winner. An adjusted count, with differences of one and two percentage points, caused the televisions to extend the broadcast until dawn, speculating about results that did not arrive.
Well after midnight, when Trump had the advantage, he spoke and proclaimed himself the winner with a speech in which, in the absence of counting millions of votes, he assured that if the trend changed, it would be electoral fraud.
Before that, his opponent, Joe Biden, had come out to calm the nerves of his followers and remember that there were many ballots to count.
The most catastrophic scenario arrived and the candidates for the White House could go to sleep without knowing who the president of the country is. In case the courts end up having the last word, donations to electoral campaigns continued despite the end of a phase. They want to be forewarned lest, once this process is finished, another much more complex and heartbreaking one begins for a society that is already showing ruptures.