Like almost everything this year, the US presidential election process too has been deeply affected by the coronavirus.
Of course, the close race shattered several records, with Democrat Joe Biden winning more than 75 million votes — the highest for a presidential candidate in history. President Donald Trump received more than 70 million — the highest total for a losing candidate. Those massive numbers are due to the highest voter turnout in a US presidential election since 1968, and experts have projected that it could cross heights not seen since the beginning of the 20th century.
But Covid-19 has hit what has been one of the most fundamental expectations from all recent US elections — the speed of the ballot count. In an age of instant results and by-the-minute exit polls, the slow pace of this year’s US election count has fuelled a lot of criticism, although the delay is largely due to the convergence of massive voter enthusiasm and safety steps taken by several states to protect voters from Covid-19.
The outgoing and the incoming US administrations must therefore urgently initiate the process for a smooth transition and reassure the world that the US remains committed to its stated goals of upholding the highest norms of democracy
While the world initially grew impatient with the slow pace of vote count, it now stands in applause of American voters who defied the virus in record numbers to cast their ballots.
President-elect Joe Biden has already prepared building his administration and outlined the contours of his policy to combat the coronavirus — which is growing by record numbers every day in the US. Those preparations got under way even as top Republican leaders refrained from acknowledging Biden’s victory out of apparent deference to President Trump, who continues to refuse to concede.
Transfer of power
The transfer of power from one president to another has been a hallmark of the world’s oldest democracy for nearly 250 years — and now with the US struggling with the pandemic and the economy, it is in the interest of the entire world for that transition to happen as swiftly and smoothly as possible.
Counting the votes was a vital part of the process and there still might be legal disputes that need adjudication. But with the outcome becoming sufficiently clear, it is time to move on and focus on battling the tangle of crises that lie at the doorstep of the Oval Office. A world torn apart by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic wrath is looking up to the US for a continuity in leadership during this critical period.
The outgoing and the incoming US administrations must therefore urgently initiate the process for a smooth transition and reassure the world that the US remains committed to its stated goals of upholding the highest norms of democracy.