By Bret Thompson
Millions of Americans who weren’t alive for Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court case that settled the 2000 election, will be casting their first presidential ballots this year. While those who remember Florida’s hanging chad debacle have particular reason to be wary for how the mechanics of this year’s election will unfold, there are good reasons for all of us to be concerned.
The biggest reason, of course, is President Donald Trump and his repeated refusals to affirm that he’ll accept the results of an election that doesn’t turn out in his favor. This is particularly worrisome given:
- his endless campaign to sow distrust in the media and experts;
- his propensity for lying;
- and his ability to directly communicate with his most ardent supporters via text, email, social media, and alt-right media, thus bypassing traditional gatekeepers.
Even if Trump doesn’t actively stoke discord on or after Election Day, there are still additional reasons to think this year’s election may play out unusually. A record number of people have already voted, many in ways they haven’t before, whether by mail or early in-person. Additionally, the effects of the pandemic and social distancing measures will cast a long shadow over precincts and counting rooms across the country.
While it’s understandable to be worried, don’t be afraid! Public Citizen is collaborating with over 150 different organizations to form the Protect the Results coalition. Listening to the will of the people by following a peaceful transition of power is a hallmark of American democracy. Protect the Results is organizing Americans, regardless of party affiliation, to mobilize to defend the valid results of the election, whether their preferred candidate wins or loses. So far over 375 events in every state have been scheduled should we need to take to the streets. The New Yorker recently profiled the coalition discussing how we’re working to ensure that every vote is counted, and how important it is that the losing candidate put their ego aside and concede for the good of our country.