It’s after eight o’clock on Friday evening, November 6, three days after the close of the polls and we still do not know who will be President of the United States.
I have been following the numbers since Wednesday morning, watching them change as the mailed in and absentee ballots are being counted. I started with the CBC tracker which was sufficient until I realized the Globe & Mail also had an interactive map which not only provides the percentages but also the actual count for every single candidate, not just Biden and Trump. You can even narrow the analysis to individual counties for a breakdown. For numbers junkies like myself, this treasure trove of information was nirvana.
Consequently, I kept checking every couple hours on the swing states: Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina and Nevada. I watched as slowly the Trump leads in Wisconsin and Michigan were whittled away to an eventual declaration for Biden as the winner. I clicked onto Georgia and Pennsylvania every couple hours to witness the painful pace of additional votes added parsimoniously, eventually giving Biden the lead. North Carolina does not seem to change.
Can someone please explain Alaska. It is never mentioned in any news feed on my smart phone. Not considered a swing state, it continues to be shaded Republican red because it is too close to call even though Trump has 62 percent of the vote with an estimated 50% of the votes counted. The vote for the remaining votes would have to be a complete reversal to change the results. What do they know and are not sharing?
And then there is Nevada.
They are proudly taking their time and will not likely finish until Sunday. I keep returning to the state as the percentage of votes counted ekes upward with only a marginal change in the gap between the two front runners. As well, Jo Jorgensen, presidential candidate for the Libertarian party has not moved out of third spot but is only 500 votes ahead of “None of these candidates”.
What a novel concept. As a citizen of the Nevada you don’t have to spoil your ballot or hand it back to the scrutineer as a protest against all the candidates; rather you can check the box, “none of these candidates”, so the choice is officially recorded. Indeed, Jo Jorgensen, who was born in Libertyville, Illinois (clearly destined to be a Libertarian) was behind “none of these candidates” in several counties including the largest, Clark County which encompasses Las Vegas. I expect her message was deemed to be as unappealing to 7,050 voters as was Trump’s and Biden’s.
The inclusion of “none of these candidates” raised my curiosity so I began to randomly select other states wondering if the option was available elsewhere. Alas, I could not find another example; however, my search uncovered a variety of seemingly odd elements that had me wondering the strategies of presidential candidates in what I originally thought was a very straight forward electoral process.
Jo Jorgensen is on the ballot for all 50 states and as such, can legitimately claim to be the third candidate. She has managed to garner 1,700,912, or 1.2% of the popular vote so far; the counting of ballots continues and the incumbent has yet to concede.
Howie Hawkins, presidential candidate for the Green party has only managed 340,386 or 0.2% to remain a distant fourth. I don’t how he expected to have challenged Jorgensen for third, let alone the other candidates since Hawkins was not on the ballot in 30 states by my count, including the so-called battlegrounds. I would have thought, given the propensity for those states to select a different president from the previous election, Howie might have had an opportunity to convince them he was their man. Rather he stood for election in those jurisdictions with the highest electoral vote counts: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois and 15 others. He could lose Maine, Deleware, Arkansas and Iowa and still exceed the minimum 270 to become President. If he lost California there would no path to the White House. California was called for Joe Biden one minute after the polls closed. Howie Hawkins’ night ended just after 11:00 pm EST even though I don’t recall any broadcast of his concession speech.
The other presidential candidates, and there are many more, must have had a different strategy. Kanye West was on the ballot for 12 states, including the influential Oklahoma, Utah, and Vermont. If he managed to win in each jurisdiction where his name appeared, Kanye West would have accumulated 84 electoral college votes. His night would have been over by 8:00 pm when New York polls closed and five minutes later was declared for Joe Biden along with the rest of the northeastern seaboard. Maybe Kanye thought to win these 12 states and his electors would convince another 186 to pick their candidate for President instead of the person with the most votes in their respective states. These so-called faithless electors are rare but according to the Globe & Mail, there was a record number in the last election. This extraordinary year of 2020 could have been the one to break the mold. There is nothing in the constitution to stop faithless electing so anything is possible.
In order to win Colorado and Vermont, Kanye would need to accumulate more votes than 20 other candidates on the presidential ticket. Aside from Trump and Biden and Jorgensen and Kanye, there are 17 other people who are vying to be president of the United States. The names are not identical on each list so the number of contestants is even higher. Zachary Scalf who has thus far managed 31 votes in Vermont is not on the list in Colorado. Good thing because he probably would have fared worse than Jordan Scott, last in terms of number of votes there with only 168.
I am unclear what they envisioned as their path to the White House. Perhaps these long-shot candidates were looking at precedent. If someone like Donald Trump could become the President of the United States, then anything is possible. They too could be president.
By noon of November 7, the Associated Press had seen enough, calling Pennsylvania for Joe Biden and thereby proclaiming him the 46th President of the United States. Nevada was also declared for Joe while conclusions about the winners for Georgia and North Carolina are still pending.
What of Alaska? The numbers have frozen. An update check at 2:30 pm today shows not a single digit has been changed and Trump’s 62% of the counted ballots remains still “too close to call”.
Jo Jorgensen managed to pick up some more votes, squeezing another 26,000 votes nation-wide. I think she should call it quits.
Based on his track record, I expect Kanye is still holding out for a miracle conversion of unfaithful electors.
Beware the electoral college.