Undecided States of America | Sunday Observer

Undecided States of America

29 November, 2020

The United (or at least what used to be united) States of America held its presidential elections on November 3, 2020 to elect the 46th President but no official winner has been declared yet. Of course, it is better to get it right irrespective of the time it takes to count each and every valid ballot received on time and accommodate the valid recount requests and appeals to assure fairness of the process.

There was about a five-week delay in releasing the official results of the presidential elections of the USA in year 2000 due to recounts and the legal battles regarding vote count in the state of Florida.

According to the US election regulations the states have to do a recount if the margin of victory is less than one per cent of the total ballots cast in that state.

If a county by county recount was done the result would have been different from what it was, claimed the lawyers of one candidate and the conflict ended up in the Supreme Court giving a five-four split decision in favour of George W. Bush making him the 43rd president of the US.

This split of the nine Supreme Court judges was expected by most of the voters since these five conservative judges were appointed by Republican administrations and the other four liberal judges were appointed by Democratic administrations.

Armed with this precedence, the Republicans planned to do whatever it takes to push the process of deciding the winner of the election to the Supreme Court where the split now is six to three in favour of them. That is one reason why they wanted to fast track filling the vacancy of the court that opened up due to the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Margin of victory

The script was written, the stage set and all the actors were in place. If President Trump didn’t have enough votes to win then, they were not going to give it up until they get a chance to present it to the Supreme Court with the expectation of getting a six to three split decision in their favour.

There have been over thirty cases, claiming voter fraud and illegal procedures, thrown out at lower courts so far and more new cases are still being filed. This time the state of Georgia, a northern neighbour of Florida, has become the centre of attraction due to several reasons.

The margin of victory there for the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is less than one percent and there will be a runoff election for one of the Senate seats there in January, 2021, which can decide which party is going to have the majority in the Senate.

In terms of political power struggle, the senatorial race is more important to both parties than the presidential recounts in that state, since the outcome of the presidential race is not going to change even if the Supreme Court declares Donald Trump as the winner in the state of Georgia.

After the automatic recount ended up with the same results the Trump camp requested another recount by hand which will cost the taxpayers of the state about four hundred thousand dollars more.

Though they have the right to ask for that recount they know very well that it is not going to make a difference in the final outcome. This clearly shows how careful the current president and his supporters are about spending taxpayer dollars. The Governor and the Secretary of State in Georgia, registered Republicans themselves, say they have not found any evidence of voter fraud or any other violation as claimed by the Trump campaign and therefore they are ready to declare Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential race in the state even though they are being accused of running an election that has not been free and fair.


If the election process in Georgia has been biased, it is safe to assume that such bias will not favour the Democrats since the Republicans have the majority in the state legislative body also.

Some Republican Senators, who won their re-election this year, support Trump’s battle to overturn the results of the election. It is hard to understand how they have missed the fact that they themselves won by being in that same ballot paper and if for some reason these ballots are disqualified then their own victories will also be nullified.

If the ballots are not thrown out they essentially are admitting that they have won the Senate seat through an illegal election. Either way they are admitting and accepting an illegitimate win.

Only two or three other Republican Senators have publicly said that it is time to accept Joe Biden as the president-elect and move on with the transition, but no Republican Senator or Congressman has congratulated Mr. Biden officially yet.

There are several interesting aspects of this struggle, to become the ‘Leader of the free world’, that the rest of the world should analyse carefully and learn from. Perhaps there is no such thing as ‘free and fair’ elections and/or ‘pure democracy’ anywhere in the world.

May be there is no such thing as a ‘free world’ either. Why should the rest of the world be willing to accept the election monitoring mandates and teams from a country that cannot select its own leader without such controversies? Are the Senators, Congressmen and other leaders of the Republican Party silent because they genuinely believe that Trump’s claims of voter fraud are legitimate or because they do not have a strong backbone to stand up for what they think is right even if they have to say certain things incompatible with what Trump has said? Are they waiting to reap the benefits just in case Trump wins again? Haven’t they noticed that their country has been losing the respect they had earned as the ‘Leader of the free world’ especially, during these last four years?


Are they blindly playing ‘follow the leader’? Should the employees of the government, such as members of the team facilitating the transition to the new administration, be working for the president or for the taxpaying public?

If the Republican members of the Senate and the Congress know that the president, their leader, is not telling the truth but still continue to maintain their silence then should such people be considered as good representatives of the people and be re-elected? Have the past four years made ‘America Great Again’?

The process of searching answers to such questions will hopefully help people to understand the political landscape of their own countries and make educated decisions about their own governing structures.

The writer has served in the higher education sector as an academic for over twenty years in the USA and thirteen years in Sri Lanka and can be contacted at [email protected]