Trust The Process
WORDS & PHOTO: Donny O’Neill
If we could label the 2020 election cycle in outdoor terms, it certainly falls into the category of type 2 fun. America checked the weather, planned its route, identified threats and prepared to circumvent them. The country started from the trailhead in the predawn hours, trudged up forested switchbacks, muscled its way through dense willows, weathered dark storm clouds, climbed up, over and around false summits and now has its summit-bid in its sights. If the mountaintop of the democratic process is election day, then we should all take a moment to celebrate and take in the views from the peak.
Almost 99 million people cast their vote prior to Election Day, this year; that’s nearly 71 percent of the 139 million votes submitted during the 2016 presidential election, according to The Associated Press. Voter turnout is predicted to break records in 2020. Americans who have already voted should be filled with hope for the future, confident in their vote and positive that their fellow voters will soon join them on the Election Day summit.
Like any type 2 adventure, the process doesn’t stop at the summit, there’s still a few miles of trail left before you get back to the car. It’s part of the process, and after all the prep work, bushwhacking, scrambling and summit views, patience is the final hurdle before the finish line of the adventure.
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It feels like we are standing on the edge of a precipice with a storm bearing down. The storm isn’t on the horizon , it’s just about upon us. The wind harkens a falling barometer and the rain is starting to fall. Before accurate weather forecasting we would hold a finger to the wind and make the best call to start another block of pitches or start rappelling. As often is the case in the mountains, the storms that we expect to be the worse dissipate when the sun sets. Other times when the climb seems easy, the clouds unleash on us. Either way, if we have an awareness of the situation and outcome we are better prepared. Thinking through the scenarios is how we keep safe in the mountains. The metaphor of cliffs and storms makes sense a day before the election. The same uncertainty sits with me as the world watches our nation vote. The decisions we make in the mountains are the basis of our safety and the well being of our family and loved ones. In voting our individual decision has a collective effect. May we all embrace courtesy, kindness and decency in the coming days. We are all in this together. 📍Shoshone-Bannock, Apsaalooké, Salish Kootenai & Cheyenne Traditional Lands, Montana
The 2020 election doesn’t end on Election Day. In order for the democratic process to work, it will take time to ensure every vote is counted and all voices are heard. The systems and timelines relied on to process and then count ballots are different from state to state. Some states allow sufficient time prior to election day for officials to process early ballots, while others don’t begin processing mail-in votes until the morning of election day. The variance between state procedures is what will likely delay election results in some states, and that’s good; it means the process is working, and every vote is being counted and recorded. For example, a recent Supreme Court ruling requires Pennsylvania to accept mail-in ballots received up until November 6, as long as they have an election day postmark. This means that Pennsylvania will require additional processing time than other states, as ballots will be arriving after election day. Again, this is simply a sign that the voting process is working. For more information on what to expect regarding election day results, click here.
If you’ve held off on making your plan to vote until election day, there’s still time to cast your ballot and contribute to the adventure. Twenty states allow for same-day voter registration; for the full list, click here. If you join the line to vote at your local polling location prior to your state’s election day cut-off time, you’re legally entitled to vote. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Think of it like showing up at the ski hill on the weekend; the lines are long, but once you’ve been whisked away to the mountaintop and are pointed downhill, it’s just pure joy. If you can stand in line with the weekend warriors, you can stand in line to vote. For a full rundown of polling hours by state, click here. For a detailed map of polling locations, click here.
If you’ve already cast your vote, congratulations! You’ve officially contributed to the democratic process this country was founded upon. The best thing you can do now is to take a deep breath, head outside and take in the view. Patience is what will get this country back to the trailhead. And if you’re headed to the polls today, remember that it’s up to us, the voters; the future rests in all of our hands. Voting is as simple as clicking into your skis, casting a line into open water or tying in at your local crag.
We’ll see you at the polls.