Other’s opinion: As count continues, voter turnout is a winner

Published 6:30 am Saturday, November 7, 2020

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Star Tribune

Once again Election Day is more like election season — less an endpoint to our quadrennial political drama than a slight pause. At this writing, America’s top political titans, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, remain locked in a battle for the White House.

A wave of absentee ballots in key states — filed early but in some states counted late — appeared to be favoring Biden late Wednesday, but Trump quickly moved to his legal strategy, demanding a recount in Wisconsin and court-ordered stops to counts in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

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Characteristically, Trump’s election night remarks were filled with baseless accusations of voter fraud and threats to go to the Supreme Court. Thankfully, some leading conservatives are pushing back hard on that proposal, urging the count to continue.

It is clear that what we will be left with, no matter who wins, is a deeply divided state and nation. Those Democrats hoping for a wholesale repudiation of Trump and Trumpism must acknowledge that both are sturdier than they might have imagined.

Similarly, Republicans who thought they could simply demonize and dismiss the other side as radicals and socialists will find that their opponents also had a message that resonated with roughly half the country.

In Minnesota, voters re-elected Democratic Sen. Tina Smith. But when it came to Congress and the Legislature, a fair number split their ticket. Some races await a final determination, but in all likelihood this state will send four Democrats and four Republicans to Congress.

Longtime Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson was soundly defeated by Republican Michelle Fischbach. Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips fended off a challenge from Republican Kendall Qualls. GOP Reps. Tom Emmer and Pete Stauber and Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Betty McCollum won by wide margins.

As of this writing, two races have yet to be called: Democratic Rep. Angie Craig narrowly leads her Republican challenger, Tyler Kistner, while Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn has a slight lead over challenger Dan Feehan.

Leadership matters in Washington. It will make a difference to this country’s fortunes whether it is led by Trump or Biden. One thing Americans have learned from the Trump years, if they doubted it, was the enormous power of the presidency when put in the hands of someone willing to fully wield it.

But it matters too that Americans have opted again for sharply divided government, with Republicans likely to hang onto control of the Senate. The question now is whether the gridlock and the same ideological battles of recent years will continue or if two sides can find ways to work with one another.

As for Minnesota voters, they can take pride in the fact that this state set another high for turnout — 78 percent by last count. Whether they cast their ballots by mail, showed up early to vote in person or donned a mask and patiently waited in line on Election Day, Minnesotans made their voices heard.

Worries about civil unrest did not materialize, and for the most part, voting went smoothly. And Minnesota voters contributed to what appears to be record-setting presidential election turnout nationwide.

That’s election news that everyone can celebrate.