The road to the presidency was not straightforward. And it has shaken some Illinois State University students, who have some of the same divisions and misinformed beliefs the rest of America has shown during voting.
President Trump has not conceded. He and his core supporters baselessly allege voter fraud. The vote count has taken some time. Student government association member Djimon Lewis said this election is going to fundamentally change the way he looks at democracy.
“In these times, I think it’s important as human beings to take caution. Cautious about where we pull our information. It is important now more than ever that we protect each other. I think we have seen police and far-right militias collaborate. It is important that people in this democracy protect each other and prepare for the uncertain future,” said Lewis.
Lewis said if President Donald Trump further resists the outcome of the election, everything in the country should stop.
“There should be no more we go along and normalize everything we’ve been through since March. We need to stop. By stop I mean strikes, general strikes, wildcat strikes; everything needs to stop until we figure out a way to get him out of office. If he stays, it is going to be very dangerous for a lot of people,” said Lewis.
He said the pandemic changed the timing of balloting and left an opening Trump has tried to exploit.
“The president’s rhetoric is causing doubt because he has always had reservations about winning this election outright. But some of the stuff that’s going on, it is happening and is a little weird, but I don’t think it is because it is fraudulent but rather coronavirus has changed a lot of dynamics, which makes everything a lot harder to count the votes,” said Lewis.
Other students said they believe Trump’s rhetoric is not a problem. Josh Bender, vice president of the ISU College Republicans, said no one was prepared for this, and the conversation should include whether some mail-in ballots are legitimate.
“Do I think that there are some being cast illegally? Yes. Pennsylvania has straight up said if they are not postmarked by Nov. 3, we will still accept them. That is illegal and we need to call that out. Michigan we are seeing mail dumps. That’s illegal, we have to call that out. He has been saying this for six months now. This should scare every side, that a state can blatantly ignore their own election laws for the sake of counting every vote. Well, if it is not done properly, you can’t count it. That’s the law, that’s the rules you have to follow that,” said Bender.
To be clear, there are no substantiated allegations of widespread false votes, or that late-arriving votes are being counted outside of the law in any state.
Some ISU students said they are scared for democracy, but mainly at a national level.
College Democrats head Ethan Kosberg said the four million vote difference in the popular vote is telling. He said eliminating the electoral college would be good for democracy.
“I hope that we can see some national reform, especially with the electoral college. We can see that it is a debacle right now, causing a lot of problems to our system. I hope we can move to some sort of rank-choice system. On the local level I think our democracy is healthy, I think the turnout is good. I don’t think the local democracy needs as much reform, but the national for sure does. We need to get rid of the electoral college,” said Kosberg.
Bender disagreed, saying the reason democracy works is the electoral college.
“I mean if the electoral college was gone a presidential candidate could go to New York, California and Texas and win an election, that’s not right. You want candidates to go to Montana, small towns in Pennsylvania; that is the best part,” said Bender.
Steven Jordan, another student and avid Trump supporter, said he is suspicious of the outcome of the election and how the votes are being tallied.
“I find it to be ironic that every time Biden takes the lead it has been really, super early in the morning. When he is taking these leads in these massive states ... it is suspicious. It really, truly is,” said Jordan.
Several states have been updating their counts at certain times of day, including the mornings.
Bender said that at the end of the day, people need to accept that something is going on.
“I’m seeing the left say it is conspiracy, the right is saying it is fact. Something is going on in some states, I think that is perfectly fair to say. I’ve talked to Democrats who have said something is going on in Michigan, Arizona. We do need to look into it, and it is fair to say that there are some states that didn’t handle this properly,” said Bender.
Again, there is no evidence to support widespread fraud.
Lewis said he fears for democracy in these times that also have divided students. He said people need to take care to gettheir information from reputable sources.
“It is important now more than ever that we protect each other. I think we have seen police and far-right militias collaborate. It is important that people in this democracy protect each other and prepare for the uncertain future,” said Lewis.
There also is no evidence to support links between police agencies and right-wing militias.
Trump continues legal efforts to question the balloting in several states, though those lawsuits have not progressed.
Inauguration day for Democrat Joe Biden is Jan. 20, 2021.
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