Less than 48 hours away from US Presidential elections and everyone in America is on edge. Following a tumultuous year faced with a global pandemic and social justice protests – some which turned violent, it’s clear the nation is bruised, and these elections are an existential fight that will determine ‘who is America’ and the identity of America.
With infection levels rising amid a second wave of Covid-19, this year’s elections are anything but predictable. Adding the element of anticipated violence following the November 3 vote, regardless of the winner, is really testing America’s anxiety levels as an experienced democracy.
As the very long campaign trail nears its end, many are warning against a long ballot count that could lead to weeks of violence and unrest. Will election results be accepted by the candidates? Will supporters take to the streets? Will disputed results move to the courts? These are questions on many voter minds. While there are no clear answers, no one dares to predict a smooth transition, and cities are bracing for potential unrest.
Giant retailers like Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Best Buy and Sunglass Hut, are among the major chains who are taking precautionary measures for the day after elections. Nordstrom says it is planning to board up some of its 350 stores, Saks Fifth Avenue vowed to implement additional security measures, and Tesla reportedly removed all cars from its stores in the capital. In New York City store fronts were being boarded up over the weekend – a bleak reminder of the relentless looting that took place several months ago.
The famously trendy Soho neighbourhood where almost no window was left unshattered during the nation-wide eruption of violence, could be seen boarded up once again in preparation for potential post-election mayhem. Luxury apartment buildings are also taking action, hiring additional security guards according to a New York Post report, and the New York Police Department is stepping up its presence, warning merchants both large and small to take precautions. While there are no specific threats according to the NYPD, Mayor Bill De Blasio addressed the city’s election-related safety protocols in case of “prolonged protests”.
According to US media, Joe Biden holds a large lead among early voters and hopes to flip states like Florida and Arizona where Trump won in 2016. While more than 92 million Americans have already voted, a number that surpasses two-thirds of all ballots cast in 2016, Republicans are banking on voter turnout on election day itself. More than sixteen key states, including Texas, Arizona, North Carolina and Florida who will help determine the winner of this election are reporting that over half of their registered voters have already cast ballots. The early turnout has set the country on course to surpass 150 million votes for the first time in history, in a pandemic-plagued election that is already historic.
Michal Michelle Divon is a journalist based in New York City.
Click here to read more news from @khaleejtimes