Campus Life Editor
This past Wednesday, Nov. 10, Assistant Professor of Political Science Dr. Sara Angevine’s Elections and Participation class hosted the community discussion panel, Let’s Process the Process: Election 2020 Virtual Panel. The panel featured election experts Victor Griego ‘78 and Samuel Derheimer, and focused on understanding the processes of the electoral system — more specifically, of the unique experience of the 2020 election.
Griego, a Whittier College alumnus, has worked in politics and civics for over 40 years, and within his impressive career has directed and participated in over 100 campaigns. Samuel Derheimer, a former colleague of Dr. Angevine, is currently the Director of Government Affairs for Hart InterCivic, a company that provides the U.S. with electoral technology. Durheimer is also a member of the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council (GCC) Executive Committee — Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, an organization tasked with providing Congress information regarding election security.
In classic fashion of our current online communication world, the panel did experience some technical difficulties. Although the meeting was set to begin at 1:30 p.m., it did not begin until almost 2 p.m. due to Zoom difficulties. Despite this, the panel was still able to continue, with the majority of the rest of the panel running smoothly.
With the continued impact that COVID-19 has had on the world, the U.S.’s electoral system was not spared from its impacts. To cope with the dangers of in-person activities, many states opted for mail-in ballots, a safe alternative to the standard in-person voting strategy. Despite the roadblocks to the election, Americans voted in record numbers, shattering previous records of political participation in the country.
In commenting about-the ever changing landscape of campaigning and elections, Griego noted that the U.S. may experience a change in voting procedures as a result of the pandemic, even after it has ended. For many, voting in person this election season was not an option, and record numbers of voters used mail-in ballots. Griego predicts that, in coming elections, this method of voting may continue in higher numbers as antiquated voting methods begin to lose favor among voters. Griego also highlighted the importance of polling and voter outreach, as these can sway elections greatly. Griego noted that, during this pandemic, voter outreach has been primarily focused online as opposed to in person. The methods of voter outreach change with the times, and it is interesting to view the 2020 election as it presents unseen challenges and growths for the American voters.
The second panelist, Samuel Durheimer, has an impressive background in election security and electoral processes. Durheimer spoke to students about the security of the 2020 election — more specifically, in comparison to the 2016 election. In the previous election, voters were impacted by an unsecure election, in which outside forces meddled in American democracy. This year, however, election security was at an all time high, with experts throughout the country focusing on ways to make the American election as secure as possible. Durheimer stressed the importance of empirical data to panel attendees and noted that his work sought to “kill the anecdote,” making election data focused on facts and math. Durheimer provided an incredibly interesting outlook on electoral security and provided attendees with an insider view of the U.S. electoral process, and reassured attendees of the security of our elections.
For many, the results of the 2020 election were favorable, and a testament to American democracy, with record numbers of voter participation. The panel provided students with resources in understanding the electoral process behind the vote and the analysis of what the 2020 election may mean for future U.S. elections. Despite the challenges that the U.S. faced in conducting a free and fair election, it is clear that the American people made their voices heard in record numbers, which will hopefully continue in future elections.
Feature image: Courtesy of Instagram.