By Amanda Rogers
In the past year, Americans also endured a global pandemic and a U.S. presidential election. We have waded through a sea for social media muck, arguments with friends and family, stacks of election flyers in the mail and name-calling commercials.
Unlike COVID-19, however, we have a finish line for the political plague – Nov. 3. And hopefully a more peaceful holiday season with our families.
Or will we?
What happens if there isn’t a decision on Election Day? With record turnout for early voting in many states, it’s likely that Election Day voting will also set records – and it could take some time to count all those votes, especially if the results are close. Don’t look for either of the candidates to concede, either.
It’s actually very unlikely that we will know the winner on Nov. 3 or even Nov. 4.
Even before the worldwide pandemic, Americans were starting to move away from Election Day voting, with 45.5 percent choosing either absentee or early voting in the 2016 election, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Mail-in ballots have to be opened, verified and fed into the tabulating machines, which can actually happen before Election Day in 32 states, but may not be completed by the end of Election Day. And in 23 states any ballot postmarked by Nov. 3 will still legally count even if they don’t arrive until after the election.
As we have learned the popular vote isn’t what elects the President, it’s the Electoral College, with each state having as many votes as its combined number of senators and representatives – 538 in all. In all but two states (Maine and Nebraska), whichever candidate wins the popular vote in the state is supposed to receive all of the state’s Electoral College votes. Electors could go rogue and vote otherwise, however.
By federal law, the states have until Dec. 8 this year to appoint electors to the Electoral College, settle any challenges to the popular vote and certify a result. Electoral votes are to be cast and delivered to the vice president and other officials by Dec. 23. They will then be opened by the 117th Congress, which will officially declare a winner on Jan. 6.
There are also concerns about what will happen if one candidate, party or followers refuses to concede to the election results. In other words, some folks are worried that things could get ugly.
With possible unrest for the next few months, how do you keep politics from turning your holiday get-togethers into a battleground?
Family gatherings are for making and growing connections and creating memories, hopefully pleasant memories. It’s very unlikely that you will change your relatives’ views or they will change yours. If your family members have very diverse political views, let everyone know politics are not welcome at the party.
If you’re not willing or don’t think you can shut down all political talk, make a plan.
- Talk to key people before the gathering. Ask known combatants to tone it down for the family. Line up the peacekeepers to help you keep things amiable.
- Plan activities and conversations that don’t have anything to do with politics. Hard to talk politics if you’re bobbing for apples.
- Seat people strategically at the table so blood isn’t shed over the cranberry sauce.
- Don’t engage. Just say no.
- Have a room set aside for people who have to talk politics. At least then Grandma doesn’t have to have her Thanksgiving ruined.
- Make it clear you don’t want to talk politics and you are uncomfortable.
- If things start to get out of control, change the subject or shut down the conversation.
- Limit the alcohol.
- Keep an eye on the kids. If things get unpleasant, they don’t need to be around it.
- Have an exit plan if things get really uncomfortable.
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