American Electile Dysfunction?


By Dr. Vishnu Bisram

Although the US election results is not yet known three days after the election. This is not “electile dysfunction” — the inability to get quick results days after an election. America, the world’s greatest and longest continuous democracy, is not suffering from “electile dysfunction” like what obtained in Guyana during that five months period of attempts by the PNC led coalition to rig the election. The declaration of a winner takes longer this year because of Covid 19 that caused all states to use mail in ballots with carying deadlines to return them but post marked by election day November 3.

Comments have been made about the inordinate amount of time it takes to count the ballots and declare a winner in last Tuesday’s US Presidential election. Protests and legal action have been pursued to address issues pertaining to ballot counting, causing some people to think that the process or system has been broken or is not working. The electoral system is working. The country is not at an economic or political standstill. Unlike what happened in other countries, Guyana being an illustrative example, there is no “electile dysfunction” in America, playing on the more popular biological term relating to the dysfunction of a man’s body organ. I am not sure if any other academics or writers have coined the term “electile dysfunction” but it was discussed with me by Prof Ram Shankar of India on Wednesday night. I googled it and nothing came up. So it must be original.

I define “electile dysfunction” as a breakdown of the electoral process, preventing people from voting and or counting of ballots, and that has brought the country to a standstill. That is not happening in America. It happened in Guyana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ghana, and other countries. Everything is normal in America. There is no instability like what took place in Guyana when a party loses an election. Normal life goes on USA — schools are in session, staff are at work, and people are milling around, shopping, and so forth.

As someone who studied and taught political science for over forty years, including American politics, I know enough to make a bold claim that the American political system is strong, very democratic, and working well — no evidence of electile dysfunction. I cannot think of another country that has a better political system in terms of balancing of power among the three branches of government and among the central government, state, and local governments.  In America, power rests with the people and not the elected leaders as say in Guyana. The US may not have the best electoral system in that the most popular candidate with the most votes may not necessarily win the Presidency. But it is the greatest nation with strong democratic credentials. Elections are free and fair, leaving out the era when Black Americans were prevented from voting or their ballots were not counted or some incidents of suppression of minority votes. The counting of ballots was a problem in 2000 because of hanging chads on computer voting cards, but so far in 2020 the counting of ballots is continuing apace this week and would conclude in a few days. I do not think the court would intervene to stop the count or prevent a recount. All the ballots will be counted and the right winner will be declared. The trend shows a Biden/Harris victory. It may take a week if not longer for an official declaration.

The country eagerly looks forward for a declaration. The reason why the counting is taking so long is the large number of absentee and mail in ballots that are slowly being processed. This is the first election for mail ballots — which was experimented with because of COVID. The counting of those ballots could not commence until the conclusion of voting on Tuesday night. It is a lengthy process to remove ballots from envelopes, verify signatures and addresses, and then placed on machines to be processed. There are millions of those ballots. And voters had until Tuesday to mail them and three days for arrival at polling centers. So officials have to wait till Friday evening to close the process and then count all the ballots. The final results with mail in ballots would not be known before Saturday, at the earliest. President Trump has moved the court to stop the count in swing states. He is going down to defeat as I had projected in earlier commentaries. It is doubtful the court would rule in his favor.