The US holds its breath in the face of the most tense and uncertain elections

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The day has arrived. After weeks in which they have been issued more than 95 million votes by mail or in advance, Americans have their appointment to the polls on Tuesday to choose who will be their president for the next four years. The country holds its breath. Because these are not, under practically any prism, normal elections, but the most tense, chaotic and wrapped in uncertainty that are remembered.

The choices that measure Donald Trump y Joe Biden They arrive in the midst of a pandemic that has already left more than 9.2 million infected in the US, more than 231,000 deaths and a trail of unemployment and economic hardship. As much as Trump now portrays it as a media artifice, the coronavirus continues to hit the country with force and causing medical experts to warn of a danger that is far from being “left behind” as the Republican claims.

The elections come to a United States that in the last six months has experienced the greatest citizen protest movement in decades, massive and predominantly peaceful demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality that have also been punctuated by episodes of violence, confrontations and an aggressive response from the forces of order.

The elections come, above all, to a country that has seen its ideological gaps grow for decades but, under Trump’s mandate, has suffered an extreme magnification of that polarization. Also, in a nation where, according to the agencies and departments of the Trump Administration itself, the most radical groups on the far right, from those fiercely opposed to the government to white supremacists, have become the main internal threat.

An explosive combination

The three elements, added to Trump’s determination to question the legitimacy of the democratic process, form an explosive combination in these elections, in which the forecasts are that there will be a participation not seen in a century. Why Due to the pandemic, voting by mail has skyrocketed, and with this and given different rules for processing and counting in different states, a longer count is anticipated. The chance of meeting a winner the same night is, by many estimates, remote.

To calm anxieties National polls that show Biden at the polls, an average of 6.5 points above the current president, are useless. The complex and contested electoral college system once again renders the popular vote irrelevant, which Democrats have won in six of seven previous elections (from which Republican presidents emerged twice: George Bush in 2000 and Trump in 2016) . And not only the ghost of the last presidential elections, when state polls failed, but the reminder made by experts like Nate Silver that Trump, even with a 10% option, can still win.

The key states

The road to the 270 electoral college votes that give the keys to the White House has just been traveled, as usual, in a handful of states. As always, eyes turn to Florida and its 29 electoral votes. They have entered this time on the map of Hinge states that were traditional Republican strongholds like Arizona (11 electoral votes) and even Texas (38), the jewel in the crown of the Conservatives. But Georgia (16), Minnesota (10) or the five states where Trump and Biden have centered their last campaign day are also on the decisive map. Among them North Carolina (15) and Ohio (18) and, above all, the trio where in 2016 77,744 votes gave Trump the victory: Michigan (16), Wisconsin (10) and Pennsylvania (20).

It is in Pennsylvania, where the governor is Democrat and the legislature is controlled by Republicans, that the aforementioned explosive combination takes more form. The Supreme Court rHe confirmed that the state will have three days to count the votes received by mail postmarked no later than day 3. Democrats were unable to get Republicans to agree to start processing those ballots earlier, which would have made recount easier.

In places like Philadelphia, they will begin to process and count on day 3 but in other counties it will wait until day 4. And while the authorities ask for “patience” before a perfectly legal process, as in the entire country, Trump himself is dedicated to undermining faith in him. On Monday the president announced that the intention is to open an immediate legal battle there in Pennsylvania.

It will not be the only one. Armies of both Democratic and Republican lawyers have been fighting in court for weeks over conditions or requirements to vote. And the battle from Tuesday will move on to the fight for the votes cast. In fact, that fight has already begun and for example in Harris, the county of Texas that includes Houston and which is a Democratic stronghold, the Republicans are trying to have 120,000 votes cast in advance annulled in voting centers established with a “drive-thru & rdquor; in the pandemic.

Unusual tension

The legal war, Trump’s assaults on the process and his constant agitation of discredited ghosts of fraud are fueling an election that is already expected with unusual tension and with real fear of violence. The focus is on guaranteeing peace this November 3 in the voting centers, designated by the authorities as the place where there is “more possibility & rdquor; of violent episodes breaking out. But the wave of preparation extends further.

As happened in the summer before the protests for racial justice, businesses in centers of different cities, from Washington to New York or Los Angeles, they have begun to hide and security measures are increased. At a wealthy residents’ building in New York’s West Village, for example, residents received a letter on October 30 titled “Election Security & rdquor; in which it was announced that, as in the summer, a security company will be hired with off-duty police officers.

“Many federal and local law enforcement agencies across the country make plans to anticipate and mitigate potential civil unrest and post-election violence,” it read. “Whatever the outcome, our concern ranges from isolated violent or opportunistic incidents to a prolonged period of massive protests and violent confrontations.”

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