Opinion | Election ‘night’

No matter what happens on Nov. 3, we shouldn’t declare a victor if there isn’t one.


Hannah Kinson, Ryan Adams

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (left) speaks during a Biden drive-in rally on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines and President Donald Trump (right) speaks during a “Make America Great Again” rally held at the Dubuque Regional Airport on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020.

Hannah Pinski, Opinions Columnist

Tomorrow marks the final day of one of the most important elections in America’s history. The future of the environment, human rights, and health care are all at stake.

But both presidential candidates have a responsibility on election night, or week — or month. President Donald Trump must commit to conceding, should it be evident he loses. Ballot counting in some swing states may take a little longer than normal, so even if (or when) Trump claims victory without results, Biden also cannot concede too soon if ballots in battleground states are still being counted.

Trump has been desperately holding on to his position for the past couple of months by doing everything from encouraging the postponement of the election to complaining about nonexistent voter fraud. Last month, Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose on Nov. 3.

However, research has proved that voter fraud isn’t a major concern and consequently lacks merit of blame should Trump lose. First off, many places (including Johnson County) are investing money into election security to ensure safety and accuracy.  State and local leaders are taking the time and effort to prevent voter fraud, which is protecting a fair and democratic election.

In fact, the only threat to American democracy caused by voting is actually the Republican Party placing fake ballot boxes around California (and refusing to comply with state orders to take them down).

As of Oct. 23, at least 56 million people have voted in the 2020 election. Of these votes, 38.6 million were cast by mail.

It’s no shock that we have a high turnout for mail ballots because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite claims Trump has made, absentee ballots are not a threat to the legitimacy of the election. In fact, an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice found that Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit voter fraud.

The only reason Trump may lose is because some Americans don’t want him as president. His false claims on voter fraud are merely to hide the fact that he’s desperate to hold onto his position of power.

If Trump wants to stand for American values, he must commit conceding and a peaceful transfer before or on election night should he lose the race.

While Trump must commit to conceding, Biden must not concede too early.

With the nature and increased use of mail in ballots, states are varying on when they will start counting postal votes and how long they will accept them. For example, most states will only count ballots that are received before the polls close, but California accepts them weeks later, as long as they have a postal date by Nov. 3.

The timeline of acceptance of ballots isn’t the only thing impacting postal counts. While Florida will start to count postal votes before Election Day, many battleground states won’t start until the polls close.

Even though Biden has committed to accept the result, he should follow Hillary Clinton’s advice that he shouldn’t concede on election night if the results are unclear.

With the delay of absentee ballots, many news sources predict we may not know results on election night, which is why it’s important for Biden to stick it out until all ballots are processed in order to determine the final count.

We are moments away from a historical election. While we must do our part and vote, both presidential candidates have individual responsibilities to practice this Tuesday.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.