Fliers on the doorstep and envelopes in the mailbox — Shippensburg saw its share of “get out the vote” literature, reminding people to vote and which polling station they can go to cast their ballot.
By the late hours of night it should become clear who will stand as the next president of the United States and who will be giving a concession speech. The 2016 election is volatile and the heat of the day may turn into a cold and sleepless night.
Hillary Clinton has a two-point lead over Donald Trump, according to a Real Clear Politics national poll average as of Monday. When elections are close and people’s emotions and energy are high, accusations of voter fraud, corruption and mischief may be high as well.
Determining the victor may not be clear. Maybe not even until midnight, or 3 a.m., or even when the sun rises. The 2000 George W. Bush and Al Gore election quickly turned into a heated battle for recounts and judicial processes. It lasted for weeks while Americans waited to see what direction their country would go to next.
Trump and running mate Mike Pence said they reserve the right to make sure Americans see an honest election, according to CNN and CBS News. The two have been alluding to questioning the results if they are close.
While the 2000 presidential election quagmire arose from strange and suspicious circumstances, it is not impossible to be repeated.
Clinton and Trump are both nearing the end of their careers, or at least the height of them. Becoming president would be the last major position they would hold. Trump, getting into politics for the first time, and Clinton, seeking the Oval Office for the second time, are not about to let the other win easily. That does not mean they will be jumping at opportunities to challenge the results, but they certainly have more reason than some to fight to the end.
Image and perspective are obsessed over in the political realm. Conceding and respecting the results is a good way to show strength and respect, but if Trump or Clinton decide they do not have anything to lose they may tie the results up in state courts for weeks.
But how the candidates react to the results is hardly the only thing to remember tonight. The next president will in, large part, determine the makeup of the Supreme Court. Since the death of justice Antonin Scalia in February, the highest court remained with eight justices, instead of its usual nine. Despite attempts by President Barack Obama to fill the seat, congressional Republicans demanded the seat be unfilled until after the election.
This is not about filling one justice seat. It is about the fate of the Supreme Court. There are currently four left-leaning justices and four right-leaning justices, splitting the court down party lines. The next president could tilt that balance.
If Trump wins tonight, then the next fours years could see a Republican White House, Supreme Court and possibly a Republican-controlled Congress.
Clinton can strike a balance across the three branches if she wins. Even if the Republicans secure both houses of Congress, Clinton can lock up the Supreme Court over the next few years. Whether by death or retirement, speculation points toward three more justice seats opening up over the next presidential term. As the Huffington Post points out, Clinton could fill these seats with liberal justices — if she can get them approved by a Republican congress.
The turbulence that plagued this election cycle may end tonight with an acceptance speech and a concession speech, but it may continue on for years to come. After all, that’s politics.