Traditionally, election night is eagerly anticipated as the payoff for the hopes and dreams of candidates locally and nationally. The MDC’s election night party typically features election results being processed in real-time and last year we had our winners by 9 pm.
There is no such guarantee this year, for any election. If you want a history lesson in how the traditional election night victory declaration can go wrong, just look at the 2000 Bush-Gore Debacle. This is a case study for what went wrong. Networks eager to declare a winner, Bush announcing he won, Gore conceding that evening and then oops? And that gave Bush the advantage. It was now Gore who was the outside agitator, mucking things up. And of course, he eventually gave up the fight.
This year, we must set our expectations differently. Consider how cautiously the AP is approaching the election:
The numbers will come when they come and when they do, “we’re going to analyze them and we’re going to look at what the people have said and their votes, and then we’ll tell you who won.” –David Scott, a deputy managing editor overseeing election coverage at the AP
And it’s worth reminding people that even when a winner is declared, there is a lengthy timeline and key milestones to hit before it becomes official on January 20th.
What can each of us do this year?
- First of all, share this article with your friends and remind those you come across that this is an election unlike any other and we need to choose our sources of election information wisely and be patient.
- Be on the lookout for unsubstantiated declarations of victory and counter those claims with information from reputable sources.
- Get informed and trained in how to defend the vote. There are a number of organizations who are anticipating what might happen and are developing plans to activate a response. Here are a few:
We’re all eager to have this election season over and get a chance to Build Back Better. But each of us plays a role in ensuring that the election process has a chance to play out as it needs to, that the experts can do the work to count every vote, and that the true winner is declared when the time is right and the counts are correct.