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Looking To The U.S. Constitution For Guidance Following The 2020 Election

Flickr/Adam Theo
Lake Effect’s Becca Schimmel talks with Paul Nolette about this year’s election and the challenges a vague Constitution presents.";s:

Election Day is here, but many Wisconsinites have already cast their votes. Because nearly two million people in Wisconsin voted early and because this is not a state where election officials can begin the count before Election Day, it’s not clear when the results will be in. 

In this unprecedented election, some may look to the U.S. Constitution for guidance in a time of political uncertainty. But the long-serving document, like many of us, wasn’t necessarily prepared for 2020 and leaves some room for interpretation.

Paul Nolette, a professor of political science at Marquette University with a focus on constitutional law and civil liberties, says the Constitution has surprisingly little to say about the unique situation the 2020 election has presented.

“One of the misperceptions people have about the Constitution is that it provides these very clear answers. In fact, the Constitution is very vague so there is a lot in American political practice, including our election cycles, that is determined by norms,” he says. 

Nolette says ultimately the Constitution is a piece of paper and it’s up to the people and elected officials in the country to maintain the norms around it.