US voters were not intimidated, democracy was a winner

North Carolina election results for the 2020 U.S. presidential election displayed on a  monitor in the Times Square neighborhood of New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. President Donald Trump has once again defied polls and predictions, with a strong showing across the Sun Belt in early results appearing to significantly shrink Democratic nominee Joe Biden's path to victory. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg

As polling stations across the US shutter, it has become clear that all those weeks of warnings about gun-toting, neo-Nazi militiamen loitering in the streets and intimidating voters did not materialise.

Sure, there were isolated incidents. In Philadelphia, a man raised concerns when he tried to enter a ballot station claiming to be a “poll watcher” for US President Donald Trump. In Texas, pro-Trump car drivers swarmed around a Democratic campaign bus. But overall, the threats by extremist groups to converge on polling stations amounted to little.

Instead, the 2020 election was a story of Americans turning out in record numbers to cast ballots in a passionate and fractious contest.

Ahead of Tuesday, many commentators were talking up the prospect of the Proud Boys, the Boogaloo Bois and others milling outside polling stations. But it was wise to be cautious, as even raising the alarm could have served to depress turnout.

We do not yet know if Mr Trump, a Republican, or his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, has prevailed. But a few things are clear: turnout was massive, Americans were not scared to vote, democracy was a winner.

James Reinl is The National's UN correspondent in New York

James Reinl

James Reinl

James is The National’s UN correspondent in New York, where he writes about diplomacy, aid work, peacekeeping and geopolitics. Previously, he has worked for the BBC, Al Jazeera English, Foreign Policy and others, with assignments across North America, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and his native Britain.