|By Joshua Graham Lynn
November 1, 2022
No one wants to relive what happened in the aftermath of the 2020 election. But with just a week until Election Day, it’s becoming clear that we need to prepare ourselves for similar chaos.
Pollster Frank Luntz has been urgently warning the public about this possibility. In one of his several recent national TV interviews, he even says he’s “scared to death” of what might happen. From candidates refusing to commit to accepting certified election results to former President Donald Trump gearing up to challenge results he doesn’t like, there’s reason for concern at every turn.
Here are three reasons why 2022 might repeat some of the same problems as 2020, what you should expect, and – most importantly – simple things you can do about it.
Reason 1: We won’t know all the results on Election Night
In 2020, it took four days for media outlets to call the election for President Joe Biden. More people than ever voted by mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic, extending the time it took to count votes. Even though election officials told us not to expect results on Election Night, self-interested politicians used the delay to cast doubt on the results.
Just like in 2020, it’s a near-certainty that we won’t know every result on Election Night 2022. This is especially true in states that process mail-in ballots slowly, including Pennsylvania. That means there’s a chance whoever is leading on November 8 may not be the eventual winner. We must remember: Slow equals careful. Votes are slow to tally because election officials are following the rule of law. Every eligible vote should be counted.
So what can you do? Be patient. Don’t jump to conclusions based on a fraction of the final vote count. Learn how votes are counted and verified. Take a breath, resist spreading misinformation, and wait for every vote to be counted.
Reason 2: Candidates could falsely claim victory or challenge results they don’t like
Hundreds of election liars are running for office nationwide. Not only are they spreading disinformation about the 2020 election, many are also refusing to commit to accepting the results of the current election. Without even knowing what the outcomes are, they are already planning to challenge the results in court with lawsuits.
In a functioning democracy, we should all agree that the candidate with the majority of support from the voters is the winner. Whether it takes a day or a week, every American deserves to have their voice heard. And no self-serving politician gets to decide the results of the election.
But already, former President Trump is planning to declare victory for his chosen candidate in Pennsylvania before all the votes are counted. He did the same thing in 2020. We know that election liars will continue to lie after the election. They’re going to tap into uncertainties and anxieties to make people feel that something is fishy with the results. But just like in 2020, they will be wrong – full stop.
So it’s worth repeating: be patient, tune out the lies, and wait for the election professionals and trustworthy media outlets to call the election.
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Reason 3: We could see more threats to election workers, voter intimidation, and even violence
As January 6 — and recent attacks on leading political figures – have made all too clear, the potential for violence surrounding our elections is a real threat. We’re likely to continue seeing harassment and threats to election workers in the lead-up and aftermath of the election as we did in 2020.
In recent days, poll workers in Wisconsin received live shooter training. Armed poll watchers are intimidating voters in Arizona. Power-hungry politicians are making up conspiracies to rile people up. Driven by those conspiracies, folks on the fringe are preparing for violence.
It’s unfortunate this needs to be said at all, but these threats are simply unacceptable. We all have a part to play in supporting our elections and those who run them:
- Educate your community about the threats election officials and voters are experiencing.
- If you see someone harassing an election worker or witness other problems at the polls, report it.
- And be sure to tell your local election workers that you stand with them.
Here’s what you can do
Look, I get it: these scenarios are scary. But there are things we can all do to defend free and fair elections.
If you see people questioning why it’s taking so long to get results, politely point them to reliable sources explaining why this is happening. If you see people parroting election liars and claiming victory before election professionals call the winner, remind them that every legal vote should count, there are safeguards for catching fraud, and voter fraud is extremely rare.
Finally, if you see people threatening election workers, report it and remind them that these are public servants with families – members of your community – that are volunteering to make democracy function.
Unfortunately, these threats are a symptom – not the cause – of our broken political system. That’s why RepresentUs works to ban partisan gerrymandering, fight corruption, and pass policies like Ranked Choice Voting to break the two-party grip on American politics.
Even as we win city by city and state by state, we must all do what we can in the short term to defend our democracy. Sign up below to make sure you are a part of the movement to fix our political system!
Contributors: Nolan Bush, RepresentUs Writer