| Photo courtesy of YouTube
Year 2020 is truly a roller coaster year. This election year was saddled with having to hurdle the corona virus pandemic, economic upheaval, political unrest, and racial strife. These are truly challenging times. From October 24th to November 1st, 2020, early voting for the presidential elections was conducted and on November 3rd, 2020, regular voting was held. During these ten days, notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic, people came in record numbers, stood in line under the rain for hours to cast their votes for the U.S. Presidential Elections. It took four days since the November 3 elections for a projected winner to be announced.
The announcement that Joe Biden is the President-elect with Kamala Harris as the Vice President-elect was both riveting and sobering. The choices were historic since Joe Biden will be the oldest president at 78 years of age while Kamala Harris will be the first female, Black and South Asian American vice president. Ms. Harris will be breaking not just one but several glass ceilings. Another cause to celebrate is that there are more women — both Democrats and Republicans elected in Congress.
I was a bit wistful for President Donald Trump, who really worked hard for the American people and who really made the rounds up to the last minute in swing states to woo voters. The coronavirus was his Achilles heel because it ruined the otherwise robust economy that his Administration ushered in and the pandemic was made the justification for the mass mail-in ballots, where he ostensibly lost to Biden.
But wait. The announcement of the presidential elections winner only came from the media and is not yet an official announcement.
“Contrary to the claim that such electoral protests would undermine the democratic process, such actions can only lead to more robust safeguards to ensure the integrity of the elections process and results, and thus, guarantee that what had transpired was truly free and fair elections.”
As of this writing, this is a continuing saga with President Trump not yet conceding and filing election cases with the courts in certain battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia to challenge alleged irregularities and fraud during the voting, particularly the counting of the mail-in ballots. This is President Trump’s right to do so and exhaust all remedies considering that nearly half of the legitimate U.S. voters elected him and that Biden only led by a razor-thin margin. Contrary to the claim that such electoral protests would undermine the democratic process, such actions can only lead to more robust safeguards to ensure the integrity of the elections process and results, and thus, guarantee that what had transpired was truly free and fair elections.
As a poll coordinator and inspector during the elections, I was concerned that the training on the handling and security of these mail-in ballots was cursory. Last minute instructions were given on the day of the election. Potential weaknesses that can be looked into are the chain of custody of the mail-in ballots from the poll site to the Board of Elections, when exactly the counting takes place, who conducts the processing of the ballots, who are present during the counting, and whether truly bipartisan poll observers are allowed to observe the counting in an effective and meaningful way. The mail-in ballot is a newfangled approach this year treated differently than the traditional Special Ballot/ Absentee Ballot and the Affidavit Ballot. Unlike regular voting, I am uncertain how the signatures are verified with the mail-in ballots. The legislature of each State sets the rules. Hence, they may vary depending on each State. It is for the interest of the entire American voting public that any issue that would affect the fairness and integrity of the elections should be threshed out.
“With huge voter turnouts, there is a need to implement a more systematic and foolproof way of voting. If they had allowed the highly flawed mail-in ballot system, I think a better way to go is digital all the way. The solution is to amend the Election Law so that voters can vote digitally or electronically in the convenience of their homes using a system that is hack-proof and rigging-proof.”
With huge voter turnouts, there is a need to implement a more systematic and foolproof way of voting. If they had allowed the highly flawed mail-in ballot system, I think a better way to go is digital all the way. The solution is to amend the Election Law so that voters can vote digitally or electronically in the convenience of their homes using a system that is hack-proof and rigging-proof. However, electronic voting should also ensure anonymity of the voters so that they are secure in their votes and trust that their votes will be counted. Is this a pipe dream? I think not. The technology is there. The voters are more tech savvy. But there is something more satisfying in going to the poll site, marking one’s ballot, and scanning it for the vote.
At some point, the uncertainty of the election results will be resolved. In his pre-emptive November 7 speech, Joe Biden sought to unite a highly polarized nation. His invocation of On Eagle’s Wings was soothing to my frayed nerves. Kamala Harris’s speech was very inspirational to every woman and every immigrant who sought a place in the sun in America. Let the nation “unite and heal” was the message. President Trump asked the nation for unity, too, in his 2016 victory speech, yet the attacks against him by the Democrats and the media were relentless. Whoever wins this time, we should go above and beyond political dissent and unite under the duly elected leader of this nation. This is democracy in action and we must accept the results, unite, and heal as a nation.
“The recent announcement by Pfizer of a vaccine for COVID-19 is very promising. The stock market is bullish. A new America is afoot. But let us stay with the values that made America great. In the end, whatever our differences are, we must unite as Americans with our shared values.”
If President-elect Joe Biden prevails, his first call to order is to create the coronavirus task force to address and overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, which wrought havoc to the health and way of life of Americans and to the U.S. economy. As a Filipino-American, I also want him to take a hard look at China’s policy and actions, particularly its military adventurism in the South China/West Philippine Seas and its growing world dominance. China needs to be accountable to the world for COVID-19. This should not be brushed aside. There is also concern regarding probable court packing, an issue they kept mum on during the campaign. There is also a possible exercise of the 25th Amendment, which might catapult VP-elect Kamala Harris to be the first Female Black/ South Asian American President of the U.S.A.
The recent announcement by Pfizer of a vaccine for COVID-19 is very promising. The stock market is bullish. A new America is afoot. But let us stay with the values that made America great. In the end, whatever our differences are, we must unite as Americans with our shared values. We must adhere to the salvos that we are “One Nation under God” and “In God We Trust.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: M. Elizabeth Cueva, Esq. is a Human Rights Lawyer with the State government. She also volunteers as a Poll Inspector with the NYS Board of Elections since 2001. She is admitted to practice Law in New York State and the Philippines.