Hannah Saad | @hannah_saad21
COVID-19 changed the election process for many Americans, but that didn’t stop voters from turning out in record numbers during the 2020 presidential election. While more people than ever before voted by absentee ballot, many still took to the polls. For some, the pandemic provided a whole new set of challenges.
BARRIERS TO THE BALLOT
As the sun rose on Election Day, anxiety turned into resolve as people waited patiently in numerous polling sites in Tuscaloosa to cast their votes.
Eboné Ivory, a senior majoring in business management, discussed how COVID-19 regulations made what had been an easy process for her in the past more difficult.
“Before COVID-19, I did not face any issues voting as a hearing-impaired person. However, going to elections since COVID started has been more stressful because I have a difficult time understanding poll workers’ instructions when they have masks covering their lips,” Ivory said. “As a hearing-impaired person, I mainly communicate by reading people’s lips.”
Poll workers faced challenges during this election as well.
Many poll workers are normally over 60 years old and were advised by election boards not to work. Alex Wood, a 25-year-old IT consultant, signed up to work at her local precinct in Fulton County, Ga., for this very reason.
“I knew that where I lived, many of the normal poll workers would not be able to work because of the pandemic,” Wood said, noting that she was also nervous about working at the polls because of the nature of the election itself. “This election season, in my opinion, is one of the most partisan in our history.”
Ivory, also faced some pre-election jitters surrounding the process of voting. She worried, like many, about whether or not absentee ballots were being counted correctly. But most of her anxiety stemmed from the political turmoil surrounding the election.
“The night before the election was the first time I ever felt nervous and anxious about who was going to win and how America would react based on who lost,” Ivory said.
One UA alumna remembered staying in a resident hall during the 2016 election. It was an experience that would fuel her anxiety four years later.
Just imagine being on the university of Alabama campus in 2016 the night of November 8th? Like I want you to imagine living in a residence hall that houses approximately 600(THIS IS THE LOWEST # I CAN THINK OF) in which half of them are RACIST. at the peak of the 2016 clown panic
— jo biden (@grandmasterjo_) November 3, 2020
THE WAITING GAME
But this election would take much longer to yield results. While most news organizations stressed the normality of counting votes post-Election Day, many took to social media to air their grievances over the election not being called sooner.
Many were frustrated with the way in which votes were counted. Some states were allowed to count mail-in, absentee and early votes before Election Day, while others like Pennsylvania had to wait until polls closed. Amy Dallen, an actress and producer, compared election week to the longevity of the pandemic.
From the year that brought you “Six Months of April,” welcome to “Tuesday, Part 3.”
— Amy Dallen (@enthusiamy) November 5, 2020
Breanna Jordan, a junior majoring in criminal justice and English, struggled to keep up with the ever-changing vote counts while also completing assignments.
Can I email my professors and tell them I’m too stressed and distraught to do hw rn?
— bree thee hottie 🧚🏽♀️ (@breeej_) November 4, 2020
Kaila Pouncy, a sophomore majoring in criminal justice and political science, tweeted about the sleepless nights many news enthusiasts shared during election week.
Me getting up in the morning after ANOTHER sleepless night without election results pic.twitter.com/75K2aMpXSk
— kaila (@kailaleslie) November 5, 2020
Several TikToks poked fun at states that were still counting votes, like Nevada.
@nottclay##stitch with @anthonysexc 😡😡😡♬ original sound – Mr. Struggle
Like many Americans, one TikToker obsessed over changing percentages, margins and battleground states.
@lelegenevieveDoing that quick mafs tonight ##biden2020 ##election ##nevada ##georgia ##fyp ##liberal ##voteblue♬ origineel geluid – Andre Felipe
After a long day at the polls, Wood said she was also anxious about the election.
“I was extremely nervous about the election when I saw how close Georgia was becoming,” Wood said.
The anticipation came to an end on Saturday, Nov. 7, when Joe Biden was named president-elect. But President Trump was quick to allege that some votes counted during the days after the election were fraudulent. Wood was confused by these claims, some of which were directly charged at poll workers like her.
“[Implications of widespread voter fraud] made me second-guess my training and the motives of poll workers and counters,” Wood said.
John McKee IV, a junior majoring in international studies, is the secretary of UA’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, a group of mainly conservative and libertarian students. He felt that election fraud was a legitimate concern, but he said an investigation wouldn’t change the results.
“Will anything come of it? I don’t know, I kind of doubt it,” McKee said. “If it does, I would kind of be happy.”
Daniel Ogden, a sophomore majoring in political science and the secretary of UA College Democrats, challenged the fraud allegations.
“Any claims of fraud, they’re baseless,” he said. “I’m more than happy for anyone to show me any evidence of fraud, but the truth is there isn’t any systematic-wide voter fraud that we’ve seen. Joe Biden is president-elect.”
Although Wood was concerned about the integrity of the election, she said that all of the poll workers on Election Day had to be there at the same time to watch the machines be unlocked and locked again at the end of the night. In addition to these safety measures, Georgia Department of Investigation agents along with local police officers were present at all Georgia precincts.
Regardless of the allegations, some have mixed ideas about what the future will hold.
“As far as what I’m optimistic about, I mean, I can’t really think about all too much,” McKee said. “I think the Kamala-Biden ticket, it’s pretty much in my opinion the worst outcome.”
Bryce Troia, a UA sophomore majoring in philosophy, was part of Our Time, an offshoot of the UA for Bernie Sanders organization.
“I feel relieved, personally, that Trump lost, but at the same time it’s difficult because I really don’t have a lot of hope for the next administration,” Troia said.
Shanaya Daughtrey, a sophomore majoring in political science and the president of IGNITE, a nonpartisan organization focused on creating the next generation of women political leaders, said she was excited to see the election of the first female, Black and Southeast Asian vice president.
“It’s a gateway. She’s one heartbeat away from the presidency. That’s a huge deal,” Daughtrey said. “It’s even more of a monumental deal because she’s an African American woman from Southeast Asian descent…[Women] have been alienated, and outnumbered, and ostracized. It’s our time now.”