Elections are typical of all democratic societies since they spread across many different institutions and governing forms, including parliament, President, executive, and sometimes even legislative authorities. Such an abundance of institutions gives the citizens opportunities to express their political opinion and influence the state and public affairs. Elections are the primary instrument that people use to determine who is going to advocate for their interests and express their will (“Electoral Politics 101”). That is why it is essential for citizens to act wisely when they choose their political leaders, as it contributes to their own benefit and well-being.
Elections and Political Sphere
Elections are one of the crucial components of politics because they are the most important instrument of the realization of power. Elections play a significant part in the activation of the political activities of the citizens. It is expressed by the development of rational and critical thinking, political socialization of the citizens, emotional expression of their thoughts and ideas, and the feeling of importance for the political life of their country (“Electoral Politics 101”). However, the role of the elections varies depending on the political regime of a particular country. Thus, in democratic countries, the elections play a crucial role in the political system and guarantee its stable functioning. In countries with non-democratic regimes, on the contrary, elections do not have any influence on political life and processes (“Electoral Politics 101”). Since the United States is a democratic country, elections are the primary means of expressing public opinion and people’s influence on the political sphere. That is why all American citizens should take part in the country’s political life in order to provide a safe future for the country.
At the same time, some political scientists tend to think that elections are just a political ritual that does not influence any political processes that exist in a particular country or society. This claim is based on the fact that the political promotion of a candidate still remains the responsibility of the political parties. That is why strict rules significantly limit the political freedom of the electorate. The citizens may choose only from candidates approved by the competing political forces. Hence, though elections are portrayed as an ambiguous political issue, they still remain an important element in the politics of a particular country (“Electoral Politics 101”). They enable the citizens to express their political opinion and choose their political leaders. Though the number of candidates is strictly limited, people still have the right to choose their future and freely express their opinion. These two actions constitute the fundamental rights and freedoms the democratic societies guarantee to their citizens.
How the US Elections Were Affected by Previous Events
The last presidential elections in the United States were conducted on the third of November in 2020. Jo Biden was elected as the US President instead of Donald Trump, who had remained in this position since 2016. The election race was tense, and no one knew then who was to win it. The situation was complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic that erupted worldwide at the beginning of 2020. The pandemic only increased the degree of uncertainty about the winner of the race among American citizens (Drajić et al. 10). COVID-19 was the most significant factor that affected the election in 2020. It not only changed people’s usual course of life but also revealed the most significant political and economic issues the US faced at that time.
The policy of the pandemic restriction that Donald Trump stuck to at the beginning of 2020 set many American citizens against him. He denied the virus’s existence, which is why his associates responsible for public health failed to establish adequate health-protective measures until the middle of March of 2020. However, the latter actions revealed the most significant changes in the voting system caused by the pandemic’s influence. The most significant one of them is the fast change of in-person voting to more anonymized systems (Shapiro and Knight 1). The lack of experience in the use of the latter created a threat of chaos, potential, and numerous errors and decreased voter turnout since people had no idea about the use of electronic voting systems.
Apart from that, conducting elections during the worldwide pandemic involved a number of challenges since the safety of the voters and poll workers became the main concern. Since the poll workers in the US are usually older than sixty, they remained in high-risk groups throughout the whole pandemic. Hence, many of them chose their own safety over counting votes during the elections. As a result, the number of polling stations substantially decreased, leading to more crowding (Shapiro and Knight 1). It is common knowledge that excessive crowding leads to higher risks of the massive spread of the virus. In addition, it may turn into a national outbreak and a severe threat to the public health and well-being of the citizens.
When speaking about the influence of current and further events in the US and the world in general on the elections, it is necessary to mention that the COVID-19 pandemic has established new rules. They will be applied to further electoral campaigns all over the world since the safety of all participants in the process has already become a priority in many countries. The implementation of the online voting system alongside traditional voting may result in a further transition towards electronic voting, though before the elections, this measure was considered forced (Shapiro and Knight 3). However, after the elections that were conducted both in the US and worldwide in 2020 and 2021, it became clear that online voting contributes to increasing the safety of the voters and poll workers. At the same time, both types of voting are equally unbiased, transparent, and honest.
How the US Elections Were Affected by Particular Regions
The 2020 elections in the United States were quite tense since the competition between the candidates lasted till the end. The most outrageous actions were detected after Jo Biden was elected as the President. Donald Trump tried to contest the results and required the recount of the votes. Though the recount found no violations and confirmed the victory of Jo Biden, Trump continued to deny his victory, which finally led to the Capitol attack on the sixth of January 2021 (Duignan). On his social media, Trump encouraged his supporters to reveal the truth that was hidden by his opponent and his team and to save democracy. After his call on the sixth of January, hundreds of people attacked Capitol, fought the police officers and the guard, and tried to disrupt the formal procedure of vote certification by the Electoral College. The procedure was paused for almost six hours till the soldiers and the police detained the protesters. As a result, several people were murdered, and dozens of them were convicted.
The political scientists call the Capitol attack not just the reaction of the society to the election results but also the evidence of the crisis that had existed in the US for a long time. The riot revealed that the US government institutions currently face severe challenges they cannot restrain. For many countries, the United States was a perfect example of a democratic society where people are satisfied with the government and vice versa. However, the Capitol attack made the international community doubt these claims. Other countries were shocked by such an outrageous violation of the law and the voting procedure. They also encouraged the US government to immediately re-establish the country’s reputation of being the most democratic estate (Duignan). That is why the process of the riot’s liquidation and the conviction of the participants were highly covered in the mass media.
Taking into consideration all mentioned above, it is possible to conclude that elections are an essential element of political science. They are the most common instrument of expressing the will of the citizens concerning the political issues of a particular country.
Elections enable people to participate in the life of the society they live in and make their life better by making the right choices. However, the election process has changed over the past two years due to the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic. It forced all the countries, including the USA, to seek new ways of voting that would ensure people’s safety. Though it is still early to judge the efficacy of the new measures, the changes are inevitable, and their amount will only grow.
Drajić, Marco, et al. “The US in an Election Year.” Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, 2020, pp. 10-14, Web.
Duignan, Brian. “United States Capitol attack of 2021.” Britannica, 2021. Web.
“Electoral Politics 101: Why Elections and Voting Matter.” Indivisible. Web.
Shapiro, Ilya and Knight, James T. “Election Regulation during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Cato Institute, 2020, pp. 1-5. Web.