A polarized, pandemic-ridden country is left with no president-elect on election night.
Voter turnout broke records nationwide for the 2020 presidential election despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. saw unprecedented mail-in ballot numbers and high early voting turnout.
President Donald Trump falsely claimed to have won the election after a night of long awaited, incomplete results. The winner still remains unclear as of 3 a.m. Wednesday.
Alachua County continues to exist as a blue dot in a cluster of rural red districts in North Central Florida. Trump won Florida’s 29 electoral college votes, while former Vice President Joe Biden won Alachua County by 27 percentage points, more than 38,000 votes.
Geraldine Espinosa, a 63-year-old medical assistant, voted for Biden. If Trump loses, she’d be relieved his term is over — and so, she said, should the rest of the U.S.
“Even if Biden did absolutely nothing when he gets in term, it still would be better than having Trump,” she said.
Experts have said the delays causing Espinosa and millions of others to question what the next four years will look like are normal. Mail ballots always take more time to process. In key states, the surge in mail ballots combined with states not starting the counting process until Tuesday morning contributed to delays.
Michael McDonald, a 53-year-old UF political science professor, said mail ballots usually cause delays in final counts. However, he said this has never been consequential enough to affect election projections.
More voters used mail ballots than ever before because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“No one should be concerned that there's something nefarious going on with counting because this is just a regular part of the process,” McDonald said.
A delay is normal, and in every election it takes time for results to become official, he said. Voters should not worry about not knowing who the president is yet.
Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia remain in question as of early Wednesday morning. Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin only started processing mail ballots on Election Day due to their state laws.
Mail ballots require signature verification, which can take time. Pennsylvania still had a million mail ballots to count as of Wednesday, according to the state’s governor Tom Wolf. Fulton County, Georgia, which includes part of Atlanta, still has thousands of mail ballots to count as of election night.
In the 2000 election between former Republican President George W. Bush and former Democratic Vice President Al Gore, Florida’s results were delayed due to a recount. The final results showed Bush defeating Gore by about 500 votes, the closest state margin of victory in U.S. history.
Nancy Tommaso, a 70-year-old High Springs resident who voted for Trump, said she remembers how stressful the 2000 election recount was. She voted for Bush and said the wait was unsettling.
“There's a lot at stake,” Tommaso said.
Trump earned her vote because she said he is a champion of the middle class and an outsider to Washington. Tommaso trusts the future of the economy under Trump’s leadership more than Biden’s.
Trump, while elected as an outsider, has spent the last four years in the White House — a position idolized by many and achieved by few.
Lauren Andersen, a 22-year-old UF political science and philosophy senior, voted early for Biden at the Reitz Union. She said a Biden presidency would be a win for young people. If Trump were to secure 270 electoral votes and win re-election, Andersen said she’d be concerned for the future. Trump has secured 213 electoral votes as of 3 a.m. Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. Biden has 236.
“It's probably gonna make me want to look into law schools in another country,” Andersen said.
Charles Pickard, a 21-year-old Santa Fe College biomedical equipment technician freshman, voted for Trump. A registered Libertarian, Pickard considers himself an independent voter.
Neither Trump nor Biden appealed to Pickard, but he voted for Trump.
“It’s another four years of kicking the can down the road,” Pickard said.
Geovanie Cordero, a 38-year-old Gainesville resident and unemployed medical assistant, voted for Biden. The former vice president earned Cordero’s vote because of the campaign’s message of unity. As a Latino, he said a Biden presidency would make him feel more secure than he’s felt during Trump’s administration.
“I've never felt that before, up until the last couple of four years, the division has been brought onto this country by this man,” Cordero said of Trump.
Steven Walker is the Fall 2021 Editor in Chief of The Alligator. He has previously worked at the Orlando Sentinel; and has bylines in the Miami Herald, Associated Press and Florida Times Union. In his free time, he likes to take long walks with his dog Luna and watch his favorite sports teams, the Orlando Magic and the Green Bay Packers.