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We may not know all the winners of the Nov. 8 elections—or even which party will control the House and Senate—for several days, even weeks. Yet so far, the election has been a victory for the democratic process.

We may not know all the winners of the Nov. 8 elections for several days, even weeks. Yet so far, the election has been a victory for the democratic process.

Voting proceeded in a largely smooth and orderly fashion around the country. While there have been numerous threats against election workers and organized efforts at voter intimidation and suppression, people turned out in droves to cast their ballots and make their voices heard. New and first-time voters showed up in unexpectedly large numbers, surprising many of the pollsters and prognosticators who hadn’t adequately factored in their influence.  Thus far, there has been little election-related violence and candidates are generally accepting the results.

Still, this is no time for complacency. All of us must remain patient as ballots are counted and legal challenges are adjudicated. Candidates must accept the will of the electorate graciously and respect the democratic process. Disappointed voters must resist calls to overturn the results by force or other extralegal means.

We must also recall that while voting and elections are necessary for democracy, they are not sufficient. Once officials are sworn into office, we must hold them accountable for their actions by listening to their statements and watching their actions. We must contact them not only with requests and information but with thanks and appreciation for good work. We must carefully share information to make sure it’s true and accurate and stay civically engaged. 

This is the work of FCNL, and we invite you to join us.

Once officials are sworn into office, we must hold them accountable.

Over the longer term, we must work together to make our electoral system fairer and more equitable so that all voices are heard, the will of the majority is respected, and the rights of the minority are protected. Our leaders must make it easier for people to participate and harder for demagogues and saboteurs to manipulate the vote. Only by working across partisan divides and seeing the inherent dignity and value of every person will we succeed together.

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