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Despite a worsening pandemic that has killed more than 230,000 Americans, ongoing economic displacement and continued racial injustice and inequality, Americans and Mainers voted — in person and by absentee ballot — in record numbers this election season.
Voters in many locales stood in long lines to cast their ballots. A few voters who failed to receive their absentee ballots drove hundreds of miles to vote in person to ensure their choices were tallied. Long lines and failed ballot delivery can be unacceptable forms of voter suppression, which require scrutiny in coming days and weeks.
But, we congratulate Americans for turning out in record numbers to vote for those who will represent them from the White House to the State House to the city council chambers.
We also thank the workers and volunteers at polling places who worked under extraordinary circumstances to keep Americans safe from the coronavirus as they cast their ballots.
We don’t know the outcome of this year’s presidential race — despite false claims of victory from President Donald Trump — and won’t have full results for days as local election officials continue to count ballots, which in some states will continue to arrive for days.
This is not fraud. Contrary to what the president said early Wednesday morning, the voting has stopped. The counting should not.
What they must do is count every valid ballot that is turned in, no matter how long that takes.
While the outcome of the presidential election is not yet clear, we did learn once again that America remains a deeply divided country, which will have significant ramifications for federal, state and local policies. It will also impact how we interact with one another outside the political sphere.
As of Wednesday afternoon, neither Trump nor Democrat Joe Biden had the 270 Electoral College votes needed to secure the presidency. Donald Trump, as he did in 2016, prevailed in the south and in rural areas. Democrat Joe Biden, the former vice president, won northeastern and west coast states and many urban areas even in red states, and he is ahead in the national popular vote.
Also as happened in 2016, Trump is projected to earn one of Maine’s Electoral College votes, from the 2nd Congressional District. On Wednesday afternoon, he was ahead by 7 percentage points in the sprawling, largely rural district. Biden had a 23 percentage point lead in the southern and coastal 1st Congressional District.
Sen. Susan Collins won reelection without the vote tally going to ranked-choice voting, according to unofficial results. The senator, who parochially criticized her opponent, Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon, for coming to Maine from Rhode Island, received 67 percent of the vote in her native county of Aroostook and 60 percent of the votes in Penobscot County, where she now lives. By contrast, she received only 38 percent of the vote in Cumberland County, home to Portland, and 48 percent in coastal Sagadahoc County.
The challenge for every person elected to office on Tuesday, including those who used our divisions to boost their electoral changes, is to find ways to bridge those divides to pass laws, budgets and policies that benefit Americans and Mainers as a whole.
“My biggest hope is that we can all come together at the end of this election season and remember that we are all Americans and when united, we are strong,” Republican Dale Crafts, who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Jared Golden for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District seat, poignantly said in a press release Wednesday. “We all should strive to do the right thing, and not seek politically motivated opportunity, because in the end, we are a nation of small communities of family, friends and neighbors knit together as one.”
We are not naive enough to think that this will happen most or even much of the time, or that it will happen quickly. But, we must remain hopeful that, when it is necessary, Americans and Mainers can come together to advance the common good, now matter who is in the White House and other elected offices.