On Tuesday, November 3rd, millions of Americans headed to the polls to vote for their preferred president and vice president-elect, along with local judges, senate positions and others. However, this election day turned into something more like an election week. Lack of poll workers available, and millions of mail-in and absentee ballots needing to be counted on or after election day prolonged the tense political atmosphere that has been looming over the United States in recent months.
Several news anchors’ dedication to following the progress of each state sparked both praises and wonder online. As votes were being counted through the night, journalists like Steve Kornacki of MSNBC were not only able to stay awake, but, deliver timely and thorough predictions on the fly. The massive electronic screens that used to fade into the background in every newscast became their companions and a staple into the early hours of the morning.
Following the results of the election was a physically and mentally draining process. As the days crawled forward, many found themselves obsessively refreshing live counts of results from the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. When the news finally broke on the morning of November 7th, it caught a lot of people by surprise. Exhausted by seeing the same numbers of electoral votes for days on end, some chose to ignore updates and wait until the news broke.
How Long Students Followed Results
The main informant of this year’s results was our screens. Christy, a senior, had this to tell VALLEY
I was fully addicted to refreshing my phone every hour and I’m pretty sure that’s all I thought/talked about for days.
The 2020 Presidential Election saw record numbers of young voters at the polls. VALLEY reached out to college students to see where they were and how they found out when the news of this historic election finally broke.
Where Students Heard
The news did not account for where people were or what they were doing. There are even reports of high school students being informed in the middle of taking the SATs. One student VALLEY spoke to states that they were in the middle of an exam when the news broke. “I had been refreshing Associated Press on Twitter and the live Google updates for the election every hour and decided to check mid-exam as I knew Pennsylvania was swinging.”
Some students were at work, others had just woken up to the news. Thanks to an increase in social media presence since the last election, people had more ways than ever before to find out. Caroline, a sophomore, found out from her roommate.
My roommate yelled CNN just called it and we turned on MSNBC and they were calling it right then […] my roommate started crying and we hugged, relieved.
How Students Heard
The desire to update friends and family was especially present among responses. Strangers turned to each other in the store or on the street to tell each other the news. Brain, a junior said that he “sounded car alarms, cheered with family. Celebratory champagne came out.”
Supporters of Joe Biden and Donald Trump alike took to social media and the streets to make their feelings known about the election. Massive crowds of people gathered in both celebrations and protest all across the country. Donald Trump has sued states such as Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania in contest for the outcome of the election. At this point in time, Joe Biden leads with both the electoral and popular vote. A change in the results seems unlikely.