An election to remember or an election to forget?

Granite Bay residents detail their feelings and emotions after the 2020 election.

Skeptics+of+the+election+results+have+flocked+to+Stop+the+Steal+Facebook+groups+by+the+thousands.

Ali Juell

Skeptics of the election results have flocked to Stop the Steal Facebook groups by the thousands.

Election season brings an unending flurry of emotions.

There are inevitable highs and lows with every batch of polls and slip-ups that cover the front pages, especially in a time where political tensions seem to be higher than ever. 

“I’ve never seen in all my years … people love a candidate like they love Donald Trump, or hate a candidate like they hate Donald Trump,” said Brandon Dell’Orto, an AP United States History teacher. “He brought out the more extreme emotions.”

Many have had to dumbfoundedly process the differing political views of their family and friends throughout the Trump presidency and candidacy.

“Four years ago, my son came out as a Republican, and I’m a Democrat,” Karen Keys, a Granite Bay resident and Biden supporter, said. “I raised him liberally, so it was just confusing for me why (he) would even think (conversely).”

But as America begins to look to the future, most can agree that political tensions around family gatherings or time with friends will begin to dissipate as we get further and further from this high pressure election season.

“I used to be my grandma’s favorite grandchild,” Dan Frey, the son of Karen Keys, said, “and now it’s been tough for her to look at me that way. But I’ll be looking forward to getting the election behind us. So we can just focus on family relationships again.”

And there is no better time to rebuild and center one’s focus on their loved ones. Especially for those who may begin processing an election loss, it’s important to spend time with friends and family to get one’s mind off of politics.

“Don’t tune out people,” Dr. Erin Ambrose, an associate psychology professor at William Jessup University, said. “Relationships are healing, so get together with people in whatever socially distanced, mask wearing way (you can). Maybe choose not to talk about politics for a while. There’s a lot of beautiful things that we can still talk about.”

This is especially important in the weeks following Election Day because impassioned individuals who felt deeply invested in their candidates and the political season can feel a sense of emptiness.

“There is an emotional letdown … that occurs after an election, even if someone’s candidate wins,” Dr. Ambrose said.“We put a lot of energy into elections. All the news is about elections. People get up, they immediately pick up their phone, they start looking at their newsfeed. They want to know what happened with their candidate and the opposing candidate.”

Politically-interested citizens not only lose a sense of purpose after an election is called, they also lose a sense of community.

“There’s all sorts of frenzy on social media … both with people who are in your same camp, and then talking trash about people in the other camp,” Dr. Ambrose said. “There’s just a lot of energy going into an election season, and then when it’s over there leaves a void.”

There’s all sorts of frenzy on social media … both with people who are in your same camp, and then talking trash about people in the other camp. There’s just a lot of energy going into an election season, and then when it’s over there leaves a void.”

— Dr. Erin Ambrose

As the election was called for Joe Biden in the days following November 3, many voters not in support of the president-elect have maintained concerns of voter fraud, which have not been verified on a scale large enough to affect the election. 

Stress levels for Americans in relation to the future of the nation have reportedly gone up to 81% following the election in a poll conducted by the American Psychological Association. The increase can presumably be associated with concerns regarding election integrity and worries that the results could be changed by the Trump association, which has been doggedly pursuing any means of overturning the results of the election.    

Several prominent government officials, including election security official Chris Krebs, have maintained that this is the most secure U.S. election to ever occur. Nonetheless, as a result of their concerns, those believing in a less than safe election have been left with unresolved tension.

“Not knowing fully if the results were fair and legal is quite distressing,” senior Brandon Gonsalves, who expressed support for Libertarian Party candidate Jo Jorgenson, said in an interview conducted in early November. “It’s causing me to worry more about the election than I was previously.”

Devout supporters of Trump maintain the belief that the election will not be over until lawsuits filed by the Trump administration have been completed, all votes are tabulated or retabulated in close states and the electoral college is allowed to cast their votes on January 6.

“There’s still some states that are a toss up,” Frey said in an interview held on November 15. “The media isn’t who decides the president; it’s the Electoral College. We’re just gonna have to see what happens after the recounts are done.”

Some Trump supporters may currently be confused by the incumbent’s loss and hesitant to accept the results because of the undeniably ample support Trump has received. 

“There’s always gonna be a segment that will refuse to admit that many Americans don’t see what they see,” Dell’Orto said. “I think that’s probably what happened with President Trump. They keep calling it the grieving process that (disappointed voters go) through. 

The people that turn out to the rallies are over the top crazy in love with (Trump). Not very often do you get politicians being told that they are loved (by their supporters). So if you’re (hearing) that (praise) and it doesn’t happen that often, how can you not believe that 90% of the country loves him?”

Apps like Parler have acted as new, uncensored social media platforms that allow for conservatives to share posts without being flagged for spreading misinformation, further fueling political tension and discourse regarding the credibility of the election’s results.

“Stop the Steal” groups have gained large followings on Facebook as they are taken down and then pop up again. One such group with 11,000 group members says the intent of the coalition is to, “make aware the issues of fraudulent voting practices and fraudulent ballot counting.”

As the claims of a deceitful election have maintained in volume, those that see no evidence of fraud feel confident in the integrity of the election.

“I don’t think there’s been any fraud,” Keys said.  “I think (Trump supporters)  are just looking for any kind of excuse to not realize the reality of what happened. There’s no proof that there was anything fraudulent.”

Though fraud does happen on occasion during an election, it’s historically unlikely for that fraud to reach a large scale.

“It’s really important that most people, at some foundational level, come to realization that voting irregularities happen,” Dell’Orto said. “Sometimes they happen based on technology, sometimes the person uses the wrong pen or they bubble the wrong thing and sometimes people do try to vote when they probably shouldn’t have. 

The voting (registry) doesn’t keep up with people who died, so the idea that people who died voted? That’s been happening as long as I’ve studied history. So there’s always going to be some of them.”

Additionally, according to Dell’Orto, tabulation errors occur for votes of all candidates.

“I would like most people to believe that, by and large, anything ‘fraudulent’ is happening on both sides,” Dell’Orto said. “And they’re probably going to …cancel each other out once it gets to the big scale.”

Many Trump supporters maintain that they will accept the results of the election after all avenues of discourse have been carried out.

“After the (recounts are) done, and if it’s a legitimate count and it turns out that Trump lost, then I can accept (the results),” Frey said. “I think most Trump supporters are the same way; we can accept a legitimate loss. We just don’t want it to be tainted with scandal or potential fraud because that kind of tarnishes the whole process.”

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