One for the history books

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Photo by Zach Bukowski

Some voters doubt the reliability of mail-in ballots.

2020 has been a year.

From COVID-19 to the presidential election and everything in between, 2020 has been full of momentous events.

January 

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 occurred on Dec. 31, 2019 in China, and was quick to make its way to the United States, with the first American citizen being diagnosed with COVID-19 Jan. 20.

Meanwhile, in the United States, President Donald Trump was on trial for impeachment in the Senate.

February

At the Feb. 4 State of the Union address, Trump discussed how he and his staff would prevent COVID-19 from becoming an issue in the U.S.

“We are coordinating with the Chinese government and working closely together on the coronavirus outbreak in China. My administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this treat,” Trump said during his address.

March 

President Trump declared the country in a state of a national emergency March 13. By March 26 there were over 1,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States. 

Death tolls continued to skyrocket, and Trump refused to acknowledge the coronavirus as a deadly disease. He predicted that COVID-19 would “disappear.” 

April

In April, many states held primary elections for the presidential race and saw higher usage of absentee ballots.

May

By the end of May, some states began opening up lockdown restrictions.

June

In June, many people participated across the country to support the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the death of George Floyd due to police violence.

July

COVID-19 continued to surge.

August

Elementary schools and high schools opened for their fall semesters, along with universities. Some saw fully online, hybrid or fully in person formats.

September

Joe Biden and Trump participated in the first presidential debate.

October

Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19 Oct. 2, which Tump announced via Twitter. They were then flown to Walter Reed National Military Medicine Center. 

November 

As of Nov. 3, there were 232,000 COVID-19 related deaths in the United States, with 9.42 million Americans diagnosed. 

Because of the pandemic, many Americans chose to participate in this election through mail-in ballots. Mail-in voting has been criticized by some who question its reliability.

Sameena Mulla, an associate professor for social and cultural sciences, said there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are more susceptible to voter fraud. She said voter suppression is a much more serious issue. 

“Voter fraud itself is very rare,” Mulla said. “Mail-in ballots can be lost or misplaced, which does raise some concerns, but the City of Milwaukee’s dropbox locations provide a reliable alternative to mailing. Stories about widespread voter fraud are often to discredit our elections. While no election is perfect, our system is a strong one, and voters should feel confident that their ballots will be counted.”  

In Wisconsin, the Supreme Court ruled that mail-in ballots are not to be counted following election day.

Between the primaries and election day, both former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump displayed what they stand for.

At the first presidential debate Sept. 26, both candidates struggled to be respectful of one another, with name calling, mocking and interrupting each other being frequent occurrences.

“The first debate was a little childish and they came back to the final debate as adults. Both candidates gained maturity in between both debates,” Gus Chiarello, a first-year student in the College of Business Administration, said.

Both candidates exemplified unprofessional behavior throughout their first debate, but after taking time to recuperate after President Trump’s recovery period from COVID-19, they came back with a stronger sense of respect for each other.

A date for the second debate was never agreed upon. Following his COVID-19 diagnosis, Trump refused to participate in a virtual debate Oct. 15. Ultimately, the second presidential debate was canceled. 

The final debate was pushed to Oct. 22, despite Trump’s resistance.

“It’s shameful that Donald Trump ducked the only debate in which the voters get to ask the questions — but it’s no surprise,” Andrew Bates, a Biden campaign spokesman, said. 

The Oct. 22 debate topics ranged from the coronavirus to racial inequality.

President Trump said at the debate, “I’m the least racist person in this room. Nobody has done more for the Black community than Donald Trump. If you look, with the exception of Abraham Lincoln, possible exception, nobody has done what I’ve done.”

Former Vice President Biden was quick to respond to President Trump.

“‘Abraham Lincoln’ here is one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history. He pours fuel on every single racist fire,” Biden said.

It’s hard to deny that this has been a chaotic — and even historic — election year in the U.S.

This story was written by Julia Abuzzahab. She can be reached julianna.abuzzahab@marquette.edu.