1. Update
  2. Voting & Elections

A Messy – But Working – Democracy That Requires our Attention

By Diane Randall, November 4, 2020


As we continue to patiently wait for every vote to be counted in this unprecedented election, I remain inspired by the millions of first time voters who cast their ballots, and by all who managed to make their voice heard at the polls—even at the apex of this pandemic.

We must assure that the methodical counting of every ballot—a process that is essential for the full exercise of our democracy—is carried out. Only then can we determine who will be elected president and who will serve in the congressional districts where races are yet to be decided. Good governance requires the opportunity for every citizen to vote and for every vote to be counted.

Good governance requires the opportunity for every citizen to vote and for every vote to be counted.

The president’s false statements about the validity of this process are damaging, not only to this election, but to the very fundamental tenets of our political life. The lies that he has persistently repeated about voting by mail and about the counting of all ballots cast in the election have a corrosive impact that perpetrates distrust in elections and government. We look for political, religious, and business leaders to speak out against these blatant lies.

I have spoken to scores of people in the past three days who have expressed dismay that the election results are so close. We are seeing ever more clearly that the polarization in our country is deep and enduring. We have a nation where millions of people either support or can look past the racist and misogynistic commentary and policies of the president; who have forgotten or dismissed the forced separation of children from their parents; who are not prioritizing leadership that will address the crises we are facing—the pandemic, climate change, systemic racism and militarism.

As an FCNL community, as Quakers, as people of faith and ultimately as civically engaged people, those of us who are white must address systemic racism in all its manifestations. This year we have seen ever more clearly the urgency of addressing the injustice woven throughout our history. In this election, in the disproportionate impact of the pandemic, in the police killings of Black people, and so much more, we recognize the enormity of what we must confront. A look at the federal laws and policies that govern voting, policing, healthcare, housing, the justice system—and, yes, our foreign policy and approach to national security as well—make clear that we do not have “liberty and justice for all.”

Ultimately, when every ballot is counted and the decision of the electoral college vote is clear, we join with others in calling for a peaceful transition of power.

Ultimately, when every ballot is counted and the decision of the electoral college vote is clear, we join with others – Democrats and Republicans – in calling for a peaceful transition of power. Whoever is elected to the presidency and to Congress must reckon with the polarization and violence in this country; execute an effective plan for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic; resolve the economic recession that is harming millions of families; and take dramatic measures to confront the devastation of climate change.

That there will be unrest and protests over the election results is to be expected given the profound political divisions in this country. This, too, is our constitutional right—to gather, to speak out, and to protest. The pro-active leadership we are witnessing for non-violent resistance, bystander intervention and mutual support are important ways to stand up to an unlawful grab for power.

Our democracy is still a work in progress and our participation—in voting and advocating for change—is essential to making it stronger. All are invited and welcome into advocacy that seeks to build relationships and co-create the world we seek.

Background Elections 2020 

This is an extraordinary election year: Political leaders have organized campaigns of voter intimidation, efforts to purge voter lists, campaigns to spread misinformation about the security of mail-in ballots, plans to reduce of the number of polling places, and other efforts, including by other countries, to sabotage our electoral process.

Diane Randall

  • General Secretary

Diane Randall is the General Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Diane leads FCNL’s staff to effectively educate and lobby for the policies and legislative priorities established by FCNL’s General Committee. A lifelong advocate for peace and social justice, Diane is a fierce proponent for citizen engagement that advances policies and practices to create a better society for all.