With this final chapter of Where do we go from here? for this article series, I decided to broaden the focus a bit. We have actually come full circle with today’s topic on Implementation—where we look beyond supporting and participating in organizations that coordinate and mobilize leaders across society to improve their communities and the world. None of us can fully do just that without looking at “where our nation may go from here.”
Look around to what is happening in our nation. As mentioned in my first series article, Where Do We Go From Here?, “. . . there is one life lesson we all need to start with. When we know the fullness of our past, recognize our present state, we then can have the greatest chance to move forward together into the future.” Again, time to get practical and proactive.
Voting our Values
Although I have asked that we try to put aside our biases, how can we? We each are so genuinely wrapped up in living our core values here and across the nation. This is even more evident by the fact more Americans voted in the 2020 election than in any other in more than 100 years. So, both sides set some records and are paying attention. However, this 2020 election isn’t so much about a candidate, whether charismatic or crass, as it is about the values each candidate supports and demonstrates through their actions. As we have seen over the past four years, our nation’s “Silent” are no longer silent. Watch how our citizens on both sides respond in word and action as this season unfolds. It will surely be telling.
Those opposing values are at the core of our nation’s division. This is even more real than any other time in this generation. Just look at the platforms of our political parties. How do you respond to those, including the media, whose headline declares that a candidate has won? They also add it is time to come together and embrace unity.
Maybe, the word, unity, isn’t so much we agree or conform, but that we still hopefully have a nation giving us freedom for disagreement and proactive engagement under our nation’s governing laws and balance of powers from the day our nation was formed. Our Constitution, Amendments, and Laws are supposed to preserve our right, privilege, and responsibility to have a voice, even in this challenging year for us all.
Calling for unity as Americans is a worthy pursuit as long as we recognize the process still before us is yet to be completed, particularly as more states are challenged. The key media word is “predicted”, not declared, puts things in current perspective. We have several more steps via our nation’s constitutional process to play out between now and 2021.
Our Complicated Path Through History
In the meantime, let’s look at the constitutional steps before us with presidential elections occurring every four years. Be sure to check out the 12th Constitutional Amendment (original document-image on left) and 20th Amendment telling us about the steps taken to correct the weaknesses in our earlier electoral system, and further protect our presidential elections.
Phase 1 – November 3 Popular Election
Fifty-one popular elections are held every presidential year, one in each state and DC. When you voted for a President and Vice President, you actually voted for the number of equal electors reflected in that state. Yet, there is no certification until Phase 2 is done.
Phase 2 – December 14 Electoral College certification (Electoral College 2020 Presidential Election Timeline)
Certified voting is done by 538 electors to officially designate the identity of the next president. 270 electoral votes are needed to win. A candidate, however, cannot gain enough electoral votes to win if only one part of the country is supporting the candidate. This phase 2 protects our nation from a majority tyrannizing the rest of the country. That is why we have three branches of government and two senators in each state, along with the Constitution providing proportional House representation based on state population.
The Electoral College is supposed to protect votes from being stolen, particularly in those ever-changing swing states from one presidential election to the next. However, in this cyberworld reality today, depending on who we listen to, more convoluted gaps may be discovered that put that protection at risk. History since our nation’s founding has also chronicled similar disparities as both Democrat and Republican parties disputed outcomes. I wonder once we are through this current maze of challenges ahead, that another constitutional amendment may be introduced. Time will only tell.
Keep in mind, unparalleled changes in voting procedures due to COVID pandemic related to extending deadlines to receive and count ballots, including massive mail-in ballots, have only complicated things further (Ballotpedia-General election absentee procedure modifications Map/Table). In addition, between Phase 1 & Phase 2, if the lower courts cannot rule on the disputes, neither candidate concedes, and there is no certification of an undisputable majority by electors, the 12th and 20th Amendments initiate additional steps. The decision could land in the House of Representatives where each state will get one vote. However, either party could ask the Supreme Court to resolve a House standoff or lingering disputes as what happened in 2000 presidential election. Yet, the challengers must have sufficient widespread evidence and affidavits that would potentially change the outcome of the election for the Supreme Court to consider hearing the charges.
Looking Back to Move Forward
Congressional intervention has happened twice in our history, 1800 and 1825. Then in 1877, Congress established the Federal Electoral Commission to investigate disputed Electoral College ballots in three states. The bipartisan commission who voted included Representatives, Senators, and Supreme Court Justices. The elections of 1876, 1888, 1960, and 2000 were among the most contentious in American history. In each case, the losing candidate and party dealt with the disputed results differently.
Yet, our nation today is still one of the most freedom-loving nations in the world. So, I encourage you to continue learning about our nation’s audacious history and evolving culture of change with the links provided in another series article, History & Culture, Where Do We Go From Here?. I have tried to provide a brief overview. So, doing your own homework should fill in any possible missing pieces, with my apologies in advance.
My hope and prayers are we will allow the constitutional provisions to work their way through the legitimate and legal stages just as they have for more than 200 years, even if it all ends up in the Supreme Court again as in 2000. Whatever the outcome, be that voice to preserve the values, freedoms, and responsibilities we will all need to embrace in the years ahead.