Anxiety peaking as Americans head to the polls

Anxiety grips the US as the 2020 campaign closes. Its the first presidential election that has been held in the throes of a deadly pandemic, sparking a record shift to early voting and raising worries it might take days or weeks for the results. (Oct. 30)

Video Transcript

TRACY BROWN: Anxiety is gripping the country as the 2020 campaign barrels down the homestretch. But election watchers are counseling patience.

JON GREENBAUM: The election is causing people all over the country from different political points of view to have a lot of anxiety. And there's just a certain amount. We're just going to have to wait and see how the process plays out.

TRACY BROWN: It's the first time a presidential election has been held in the throes of a deadly pandemic, which has sparked an unmatched shift to early voting by mail or otherwise. President Donald Trump's repeated suggestions that this election is beset by fraud, the first time a sitting president has sought to undermine faith in the electoral process, is contributing to the anxiety.

JOSHUA GELTZER: Even amidst the pandemic, even amidst foreign cyber-enabled threats, I think Donald Trump has been a serious threat to the integrity of these elections.

JUSTIN LEVITT: He's particularly volatile, and he's particularly uninterested in the legal bounds. Again, the election is not up to him, but he conveys the sense that anything can happen. In fact, that's not really true.

TRACY BROWN: Paradoxically, voters in some ways are benefiting from the coronavirus pandemic striking in the spring.

JON GREENBAUM: Most places that are holding elections have had to hold an election already under the pandemic. And so they're much better prepared than they were in March, April, May and June.

TRACY BROWN: More than 80 million voters have already had their say, and that's leading to expectations that days or weeks might pass before the outcome is known.

JOSHUA GELTZER: I think it's absolutely critical that Americans understand that we may not know on election night or even for a day or two thereafter exactly who won. And that Americans understand that there is nothing wrong with that. That's not a sign of our system failing us. It's not a sign of this election's now being a failure.

TRACY BROWN: While Americans have become accustomed to learning who will be their next president on election night, it would be far from unprecedented if they don't. Until 1937, presidents were inaugurated in March, partly because it took so long to report and count the vote. And the 2000 election was not resolved until December 12, when the US Supreme Court made George W. Bush the winner by ruling that Florida must stop counting votes.

GEORGE W. BUSH: And thankful that we were able to resolve our electoral differences.

TRACY BROWN: Tracy Brown, Associated Press.