Yesterday, 3 November 2020, Americans went to the polls. They began voting for their next president. Americans have a choice between Donald Trump, the Republican incumbent president, and his Democratic challenger, and former Vice President Joe Biden.
According to the US Embassy website, polls opened in the US around 7.30 pm (Sri Lanka time) yesterday.
The US election is unique. The winner is not decided by the popular vote. Under the US Constitution, the election is neither a vote by Congress or a parliamentary system nor a direct popular vote as in Sri Lanka. In the US election, voters decide state-level contests rather than an overall single national one.
To be elected the US president, a candidate must win at least 270 votes in what’s called the electoral college. There are 538 electors in total. Each US state gets a certain number of votes partly based on its population -and there are a total of 538 up for grabs. Each state’s allotment of electors equals the number of congressmen – according to population–plus two for each senator.
A candidate running for presidency has a designated group of electors in each state, generally chosen by the candidate’s political party. When citizens vote for a president, they are not actually voting for the candidate himself, but for the candidate’s electors in the state. Most states have a “winner-take-all” system that awards all electors to the winning presidential candidate, but Maine and Nebraska implement a different “proportional representation” system.
After the election, the governor declares the winning candidate in each state and which electors will represent the state in the meeting of electors to be held on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December.
According to Lisa Deeley, chair of a three-member panel of Philadelphia city commissioners that runs the election, there will not be a result on election night. All over the world ordinary people, with little or nothing to do directly with the US will be anxiously awaiting the results of this election which pits incumbent president Trump against former Vice President Biden.
Why is there worldwide attention drawn to this year’s US presidential election?
US elections by-and-large, have been exemplary expressions of the people’s will. In this year however, the US president himself has suggested the election is rigged! obstructed mail-in ballots, claimed Democrats were stealing votes and even threatened to reject the election result!
Internationally this particular incumbent US President has treated both friend and foe with equal contempt, calling his allies (NATO countries) cheats and imposing unilateral sanctions on rivals China and Russia.
The US President has also torn up international agreements like the UN brokered Iran Nuclear Deal. He is in denial of climate change, runs down efforts to fight the Coronavirus and rejects the need for wearing protective gear to stop its spread; despite over 230,000 Americans having died of the disease and millions more Americans falling victim to the disease. To make matters worse this US President is completely hostile to the UN and the WHO in their efforts to combat the virus, while at the same time opposing multilateral economic collaboration.
The US is also involved in a running battle for economic domination against China, It is for these reasons and more that the world watches this particular US Presidential Election transfixed.
Our own country too has reason to watch with awe what takes place at the US Election. Just last week US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a lightning visit to our shores censured our relations with China (with whom the US is engaged in a ‘trade dispute’) and called for improved relations with the US.
What is more important however, is that the facade of democracy and fair play touted by the western powers is being slowly, but surely torn away during this particular US election. The fact that ‘Walmart’ a major retail gun seller in the US is voluntarily closing its gun sales counter during the election, that shops are boarding up shop-windows as election day draws near in expectance of violence shows the US is no better than countries they refer to as dictatorships.
Yet again many states chiding under various US taunts, will be waiting to thumb a nose at the US, if fears that the present US president’s charges of electoral fraud etc lead to unrest once election results in the States are announced.
What is being exposed by the present US Election is that the US is no different from tinpot dictatorships the world over.