By Riley Funk and John Tuttle. This story originally appeared in the November 6th e-edition of The Circuit.

The 2020 Presidential Election has come to a head between the incumbent Republican President Donald Trump, and the Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Linda Funk, an Atchison native, is no stranger to working the voting booth. Funk has been part of the local process for over 15 years. Regarding specifically the 2020 election, she expected this one to be different from past elections.

“This election is getting a lot of attention. I believe that the voting numbers this year will outnumber any of the elections I have worked thus far,” Funk said.

One of the main reasons for this election being different is the amount of mail-in voting ballots being used out of COVID-19 concerns. Millions of mailed ballots are being recorded, accounting for some of the delay in election results.

Dr. Joshua Wolf, the advisor for one of Benedictine College’s political organizations, the BC Young Democrats, spoke with The Circuit about the election, offering some ideas of the issues at hand.

“The most important issue in this election is difficult to pin down and obviously varies for each voter,” Wolf said. “Gun control, Roe v Wade, racial tensions, economic downturn, the pandemic – all issues that figure prominently in this year’s election cycle.”

Many of these bear immediate relevance for Benedictine students. Racial minorities on campus have sought better representation. Pro-life ministry is integral to Benedictine’s Catholic identity.

Benedictine, like other colleges, has also had to navigate quarantining students on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With such high-stakes issues, election day and its aftermath have made Americans take notice.  

I think most Americans are nervous about this year’s election,” Wolf said. “There has been an unusual amount of instability in the US over the past year and that instability has increased voter anxiety.”

The Carter Center, a nonpartisan nonprofit seeking to promote freedom and democracy, examined the US election for the first time this year. The organization seeks to preserve, among other things, fair elections.

The World from PRX interviewed David Carroll, director of The Carter Center’s democracy program on the center’s observations of the election.

Carroll suggested the US is witnessing both political and social polarization as well as a public distrust of government procedure.

With the election being as thoroughly divided as it has been, Wolf further suggests the polarization may be a manifestation of a lack of clarity among the American public.

“Ultimately, I think this election was about stability,” Wolf said. “Who will be a steadier leader over the next four years as the United States wrestles with many of the issues?”

Another political organization involved at Benedictine is Turning Point USA, an organization that identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote freedom.

The Benedictine Chapter was founded in 2019 and has 30 active members. The President of the campus chapter, Christina Rossini, explained the importance of this election.

“This is a pivotal election in our country, an election which will determine whether we remain a free country with our right to free speech,” said Rossini, “or whether we begin our gradual descent into a socialist regime, with censorship of free speech, stifling of our freedom to practice our religion, and deterioration of the second amendment.”

Rossini feels like the country is moving farther and farther apart.

“It seems like this election cycle is a breaking point for some Americans. Many on both sides are getting so tired of the others’ ideas, that they just want to be nasty to the members of the other side. This is horrible and as Catholics, we must pray for the healing of our nation,” Rossini said. 

Rossini expressed concern that this could have a negative impact on both sides of the political spectrum.

“As a strong constitutional conservative, these hits to the Bill of Rights are not only a danger to myself, but also a danger to my peers on the left,” Rossini said.

At the time of writing, the election results are not finalized. Stay tuned to The Circuit for updates on the aftermath of the election.