If July 28, 2017, doesn’t necessarily jump out at you as a date to remember, that’s OK. I had to look it up, too. That’s the date when Rep. John Delaney of Maryland announced he would run for the Democratic nomination for president. He was the first to challenge President Donald J. Trump. Andrew Yang entered in November that same year, and we were off to the races.
If it feels like we’ve been living in an election season forever, it’s because that’s exactly where we’ve been for the past 39 months, or almost Trump’s entire term in office. If historians are accurate, it’s been the longest presidential election season of our lives. It’s hard to imagine, then, what it will feel like after the election is over, whenever that may be.
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia allow postmarked ballots to arrive after Election Day. Wisconsin has never been one of them and isn’t now. Some tried to make it that way because of the pandemic, which has caused a larger volume of absentee voting. That effort came to a conclusion Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Wisconsin’s voting laws. It said in a 5-3 decision that courts shouldn’t decide a state’s election rules, even in the face of a pandemic.
I agree that courts shouldn’t decide this because obstacles to voting exist for people even without a pandemic. We should wake up to this fact. We should join those 22 states and the District of Columbia by amending our election laws permanently. We know the pandemic has pressed our lives as we knew them into a completely different form, but we must not pretend the COVID-19 is the only or most primary disproportionate barrier to voting that exists.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court decision that upholds Wisconsin’s election laws means you must get your absentee ballot to clerks by the time polls close on Election Day, Nov. 3. If you’ve procrastinated on this, that also means you must hoof it down to the clerk’s office of your municipality, certainly by the time you’re reading this.
Door County’s polls will all close at 8 pm, but the last of Wisconsin’s polls will close as late at 9 pm. Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement to mainstream media that he expects to have Wisconsin’s results by Election Night or into the wee hours of Wednesday because of Milwaukee County, which is expected to be the latest to report. Other states will be further behind.
We’re hearing that this election will not be smooth. Pundits are actually gaming out all the chaos that could unfold. But our Constitution’s 20th Amendment says that presidential and vice presidential terms end at noon on Jan. 20 when the new president and vice president are inaugurated. Whatever may happen between Nov. 3, 2020, and Jan. 20, 2021, I strongly believe that we, as a people, will accept whatever the election results decide.
I believe we all hope for a peaceful, postelection transition of power, whether through the reinstallation of our current president or the installation of his challenger. I believe we respect our constitutional republic and the democracy we’re fortunate to have in this country. I believe we won’t take for granted what other nations have struggled to achieve just because we may not like the outcome.
I know this because “We the People of the United States” wrote a Constitution, and in the preamble of that document, spelled out exactly why we were doing it and why we adhere to it and why we live here: to create a better country, establish justice, ensure peace, defend the country, cultivate general happiness and guarantee freedom for ourselves and future generations.
Happy Election Day. See you on the other side.