Commentary: Election watching, a new olympic sport

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris greet supporters in Wilmington, Delaware after their big win on Nov. 7. (Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press)

My first thought when I heard the results of the election was, “I can finally go home.”

I came back to Canada in May because I didn’t feel safe in my hometown of Scarborough, Maine. It became clear that the United States, specifically Donald Trump, were failing to manage the rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

As an American living abroad, I often feel guilty, like a passenger who left her family and friends on the Titanic while I waved from the shore. But on Nov. 3, I felt close to everyone I left behind, even going so far as to go out and buy a good old-fashioned cheeseburger to keep me company as I curled up on the couch to watch the show begin.

Election day

The results began rolling in around 8 p.m. ET. Many states like Massachusets and Alabama were called early because they’re reliably Democratic blue and Republican red states.

The election seemed hopeless. States like Pennsylvania, which had previously been Democratic strongholds, turned red.

I went to bed at around 1 a.m., but after a few hours of tossing and turning, I checked Twitter and saw that Trump was projected to win Florida, Texas and Ohio. After a few more hours of insomnia, I again checked Twitter again and found that Trump had claimed a false victory, despite being behind in electoral votes.

Still waiting

Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin still didn’t have their results in. Unlike last night, the news seems reluctant to announce winners.

In the mid-afternoon, the Republican Party called for counting to halt in Michigan, a key battleground state. Not long after Biden won Wisconsin, Trump asked for a recount. I was frustrated but unsurprised.

Later, Biden gave a speech about the power of democracy and waiting for each vote to be counted. I was glad to see him acting presidential, but part of me was terrified that he would literally be shot on live TV. Nothing is more American than assassinating someone with whom you disagree with.

I went to bed that night with a troubled mind and again spent the night tossing and turning.

Cautious hope

After three days of near-constant election coverage, on Thursday, I took a break from the news and tried to watch Netflix to resist the urge to check Twitter every two minutes. I took a walk outside for some fresh air. When I returned home, I stuffed my face with Oreos as I turned the TV back on.

When Biden won Arizona, bringing him to 253 electoral votes, I screamed and almost began crying. Biden was only three thousand votes behind Trump in a reliably Republican Georgia. With 18 thousand votes left to count, it meant Biden could win the state.

Blue lead and anxiety

I awoke on Friday morning to a flurry of tweets and news updates. Biden took the lead in Georgia and Pennsylvania and maintained one in Nevada and Arizona. It seemed clear that Biden was heading for presidential victory. I should have been happy, but anxiety wracked my body. I couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow this feeling of hope would be ripped away from me.

It seemed like there was something new to worry about every hour, whether it was fake news and conspiracy theories flooding social media or fears of armed protesters and riots. There were protests, some of which were armed, but things stayed mostly peaceful.

The results

The moment I left to find some normalcy at the Coffee Mill, the news broke. The Associated Press called the presidency for Biden and stories flooded social media. My mom and friends called, and we cried tears of relief.

Trump has yet to accept the results but something about the day felt new and hopeful. There’s still hope for the United States. This election had the highest voter turnout in American history and elected Kamala Harris, a Black and South Asian woman, as vice president.

After years of humiliation and inhumanity in the states, today, I am proud to be an American again.