Thoughts on the Election from a Professor

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In a year that has been consumed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to believe that we also had to worry about a presidential election. It doesn’t matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, the presidential election is an important concern for all. This year’s election process has been long, stressful and controversial on all sides. Everything from polling and voting to network coverage of the election has stirred up questions, and the presidential candidates themselves have everyone questioning what the next four years of this country will look like.

Josh Bramlett, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Eastern New Mexico University, has spent years studying in various political areas; he has primarily studied politics from the communication point of view, looking at areas such as political advertisements, debates and the use of social media in political campaigns. Like many other people in this country, he has been closely following campaigns of the two main presidential nominees; from Election Day on Nov. 3 to Saturday, Nov. 7, when news sources called the election, he kept close track of the vote counting process along with the rest of the world.

Bramlett said that despite the ongoing “discussions” about the elections and their integrity, he seems confident in our voting process. However, he said “just as we were patient [after election day] as votes continued to be counted, it appears that we’ll need to be patient” because of the potential for lawsuits from the Trump campaign regarding voter fraud. The high amount of early and mail-in voting caused the long wait for the presidential election result. “Perhaps we could see” national or state level voting laws change after this election, he said. He also said that he “was a little worried about some sort of major event” taking place on Election Day that would hinder the voting process.

As for the time it took for news sources to project the winner of the presidential election, he said it was stressful “to have to follow cable news” for multiple days, but that “it’s worth it to make sure the process plays out correctly” and have every vote counted. Bramlett also noted that in the 2000 presidential election, the results were disputed until December of that year; the 2000 election was fairly similar in that the decision of who was elected was close and determined by a few key states. He also noted that news outlets wait until they are almost certain who will win, so they will not have to recall their projection of winners. He said it has been learned from a 2016 survey “that Americans are always fatigued about election coverage,” but he does feel that it is important for the media to provide Americans with information so they can make “informed votes.” He also said that he “switched channels here and there,” because he felt that the CNN music was too dramatic. Bramlett concluded by noting that while it is important for the election to receive coverage, it is also important for viewers to turn off the television and take a break from the constant coverage.

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