Pending chaos: Why the coming days for America will be frightening

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The day after election day will bring chaos. What that chaos will be is still uncertain, but that does not make it any less frightening.

By Elizabeth Pischke, Pleasant Valley High School - IA

Election day is upon us. The future of our country will be determined soon, but it does not matter what the outcome is: chaos is assured, and it is terrifying.

Tuesday it is not guaranteed the election winner will be announced. Mail-in and absentee ballots will still be accepted in 19 states post election day, so it could take days – even weeks – for those votes to be counted and applied towards totals.

If a winner is not announced, some people will paint it as a delay and get angry. That anger then could turn violent, creating a daunting reality for America: more protests and riots. 2020 has been a year filled with protests that mostly turn violent, and with all the tension concerning the election, protests against the winner are expected.

In preparation for possible disarray, students at George Washington University received an email from their administration encouraging them to stockpile enough food, supplies and medicine for at least a week and to prepare for the coming days as people would for a hurricane or snowstorm that would prevent them from going outside for a period of time.

If that kind of a warning is not chilling, then what is?

This threat of violence could be avoided if people educated themselves and learned that even if counting takes multiple days or weeks, it is not truly a delay.

The 12th amendment and the Electoral Count Act of 1887 allow states to take up to five weeks after election day (in this case Dec. 8) to count popular votes. Then, after that deadline, states have six more days (until Dec. 14) to tally the votes and give the numbers to the state electors who then cast the state’s votes.

If states miss the Dec. 14 deadline, only then would the election results be considered delayed.

What is frightening about this is some people will allow their emotions and lack of education to impact their reaction to what happens tomorrow night. Instead of logically thinking through the situation, those people will act before thinking, and those actions of protest – most likely violent actions – will not end well for anyone.

Senior Joe Dilley is concerned waiting for the election results will create angst for people who believe the wait is purposely hurting a candidate. However, he believes it may provide a silver lining as well. “Announcing the results until later will cause less chance for the results to change,” he said. “The more set it stone the outcome is, the less people can change it, causing less rioting [about who truly won the election].”

Post-election riots are not a new issue. In 2016, Trump’s win prompted protests around the country, most notably in Portland, Los Angeles and Oakland, Calif. Starting as peaceful marches, they quickly became acts of violent demonstration as people vandalized buildings and cars.

These riots and protests led to multiple people getting hurt. The 2016 Oakland protest led to the hospitalization of a protestor, because he was shot by another man. The same year, The University of California San Diego held a protest resulting in a student protester being hit by a car.

All these demonstrations cause is harm and violence, and it is horrifying that might be the reality in a couple of days.

Waiting for election results is just one of the three most likely outcomes that might become a reality. The other two are simple: Trump wins again or Biden wins. There will be protests no matter who wins, but how bad those protests are will depend on who claims victory.

PV alumni Anna Myatt sees the protests being the worst if Trump wins again. “[Trump] supports decisions that threaten a majority of the country’s rights,” she said. “If he wins, that will not sit well with [many] people.”

Dilley agrees that a Trump triumph will cause more rioting. “The Democratic party has already shown they’re not afraid to protest to get what they want,” he explained. “The Black Lives Matter movement is just one example of that.”

While Democrats have already proven they are not afraid to protest, Republicans have hinted at some sort of post-election day chaos as well. Michael Caputo, Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services, has already implied there will be post-election day violence by encouraging Trump supporters to stock up on ammunition.

Whether this encouragement is in preparation for an offensive or a defensive move is unclear. What is clear, however, is encouraging a readiness for violence is just as daunting as the real thing.

The past has proven protest turned riots are the largest and most violent in major cities. Myatt currently attends Long Island University in New York City and admitted to being scared about what is to come. “Being from such a small town, I don’t really know if I can fathom a large-scale riot,” she explained.

The threat of post-election day riots is most likely going to come true, and it is frightening. The fact people on either side will allow such violence to control them and their actions is both upsetting and extremely concerning.

The events during the day after election day are uncertain. People can try and guess what will occur, but the truth is nobody will know until it happens – and that is probably the scariest part of it all.

This story was originally published on Spartan Shield on November 2, 2020.