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  • Writer's pictureCorinne Coleman

Should the Presidential Election be Postponed?

In January of 1845, the 28th United States Congress passed the Presidential Election Day Act. This act would establish a uniform time for the presidential and vice-presidential elections to take place. Having nationwide uniformity for the presidential election increased the speed of the election process after having the 1844 election last from November 1- December 4. Congress put into law that the Tuesday after the first Monday in November will be the day people will vote to appoint electors beginning in 1848 until now. Though the decision is at the discretion of Congress to postpone it or not, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the upcoming Presidential election should still take place on November 3.

When the 28th Congress enacted the Presidential Election Day Act, they had no way to foresee any of the life-changing occurrences that the country would face, nor the ones that would affect the entire world. The Southern Succession that took place in December 1860 would eventually lead to the

breakout of the American Civil War, where the Union Army and the Confederate Army fought from April 1861- April 1865. During this time, two presidential elections took place where Abraham Lincoln won both elections. The ongoing war between the North and the South did not prevent the people of the United States from honoring their democratic duty to society.

Nearly 50 years later, the United States, along with the rest of the world, would be faced with not only a world war but a worldwide pandemic. World War I last from July 1914 – November 1918. Towards the end of the war, the Spanish Flu pandemic had erupted in Europe, and U.S. Soldiers carried the disease back home. In the next two years, this virus killed about 50 million people worldwide, with about 675,000 occurring in the United States. During this challenging time, Woodrow Wilson and Warren G. Harding would become the 28th and the 29th Presidents of the United States. The country was fighting and recovering from a war overseas as a virus threatened to decimate the world population. Through it all, the country’s democracy remained intact, and elections happened accordingly.

In the 1940s, as Europe erupted into war once again, the United States, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, was forced to enter World War II. During this time, the country was on edge after the Japanese bombings, and many feared that the war might reach the mainland United States. While the war was taking place, President Franklin Roosevelt, famously known as FDR, was re-elected for his second term. Years later, during the turmoil of the Vietnam War and the ongoing Civil Rights movement sweeping through the nation, President John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon would be elected during their respective elections.

Decades later, mainland United States would be attacked on September 11, 2001, changing the course of the country’s national security and creating a divide as then-President George W. Bush would enact his War on Terror. The country entered into war with Iraq and Afghanistan which lasted for years. The wars would lead to thousands of American casualties, and yet, in 2008, the country elected President Barak Obama as the nation’s first African American president.

It seems as though the United States is always at war. At war with itself, other countries, and now, once again, with a virus that threatens human existence. However, the determination to fight, prevail, and maintain is something embedded within the fabric of the nation. As the country fought over the centuries since its birth over inequality, woman’s rights, and civil rights for African Americans, the core values remained. The repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic have created a sense an uncertainty that looms over the future of the country.

Nevertheless, like all of the wars the country has faced before, the only difference is the battlefield. Postponing the election, something that has never transpired in the history of the United States sends the wrong message to the people. The United States has always presented itself as a dominant world power capable of withstanding any threat, and the people are looking to their leaders more than ever for guidance, strength, and continuity of that world dominance. Americans are scared and anxious, and any crack within the United States government right now could be devastating to its democracy. The country must maintain its integrity for the sake of its democracy. Having the American people unite through this fight and elect a leader will not only empower them individually but continue to strengthen the democracy and position as a world superpower.

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