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Former vice-president Joe Biden has been elected the 46th President of the United States. Biden’s win has come after a hard-fought campaign during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Biden’s win is a historic victory as he has received more votes than any Presidential candidate in history, the previous record-holder was Barack Obama for his 2008 win. Biden’s win is also significant for the fact that incumbent Presidents almost never lose elections. Trump is the first incumbent President to lose an election in 28 years and only the fourth incumbent to lose in the past 100 years. In another historic victory, newly vice-president-elect Kamala Harris will be the first woman vice-president, the first Black vice-president and the first Asian vice-president in the US.

We now know that Biden won a very decisive victory but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the election results initially seemed very close. More Americans voted in the 2020 election than in any election in the history of the country. Over 30 million more people voted in 2020 compared to 2016, although the votes are still being counted and that number could increase. Due to the overwhelming turnout, vote counters in many states were inundated with ballots to count. More than 100 million people also decided to vote by mail, which is not common in all of the US. Due to the different voting and counting rules in various states, the results trickled in much slower this year than in previous years.

Although all of the votes are never counted on election night, it is common for the results of an election to be known on the night itself. This is done through projections based on how many votes have been counted, whose votes have been counted and how many votes are remaining. Organisations such as Associated Press have complicated algorithms that count, report and predict the results in each state. Once news organisations are 99.5% confident of the result in a state, they will “call” the state for one candidate. This gives everyone a clear picture of who has won the election, sometimes very quickly. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter conceded to then-nominee Ronald Reagan before the polls had even closed on the west coast because the projections were so strongly in Reagan’s favour. It was clear before voting ended on the west coast that Reagan had won.

This was not the situation in 2020. Due to the nature of the voting this year, the counting and projection methods became far more complicated. Trump voters typically cast their votes on Election Day, while Biden supporters typically mailed them in. This meant that votes cast on the day itself were counted first and in some states, there were huge delays as they counted the unprecedented number of mail-in ballots. Therefore, on election night Trump took an early lead as his votes were mostly counted first. Things started to look bad for Biden as Trump won the key swing states of Florida and Ohio. No President has won an election without winning Florida and Ohio since 1960. This meant that Biden’s chances of winning looked slim in the early hours after voting had ended. As the hours of waiting turned into days of waiting, the votes continued to be counted and Biden began to catch Trump in the remaining key states.

On election night, Trump was leading in the key state of Pennsylvania by around 600,000 votes but around 2 million votes had not yet been counted. Election Day was Tuesday and it took until Saturday to declare a winner in Pennsylvania. Despite Trump’s early lead, he needed Pennsylvania in order to have any chance of winning the election as Biden had won many more electoral college votes than Trump. When Pennsylvania was called for Biden on Saturday, it became official that Biden had won the election. Biden has since won almost every state that people were waiting to hear the results for on Election Night. This includes the state of Georgia which has voted Republican (Trump’s party) in every election since 1992.

In the end, Biden won a huge victory over Trump but that hasn’t stopped Trump from declaring the election to be rigged and denying the results. Many in the US are concerned regarding Trump not accepting his defeat and not conceding, which is tradition. Although only a minority of voters in the US believe Trump’s claims, that has not stopped him from continuing with his lies that the election was rigged. There is absolutely no proof of any cheating, fraud or rigging of the election. In fact, one recent study found that it was the most secure election in history. On January 20, Trump will leave the White House and cease to be President. The question is whether he leaves the White House willingly or if he will be removed by force.

Difficult words

Incumbent (adj/n): Currently holding office.

Inundated (v): To be overwhelmed or flooded with something.

Trickle (v/n): To come in slowly or gradually.

Projection (n): An estimate or forecast of a future situation.

Algorithm (n): A process or set of rules used in a calculation.

Concede (v): To surrender or admit a loss.

Slim (adj): Small or thin.

Rig (v): To do something fraudulently in order to gain an advantage.

Cease (v): To stop or bring to an end.

Activities

For listening practice, listen to the recorded article here:

American English Audio:

Match the Synonym!

1. IncumbentA. Overwhelmed.
2. InundatedB. Fix fraudulently.
3. TrickleC. Admit defeat.
4. ProjectionD. In office.
5. AlgorithmE. Thin
6. ConcedeF. Future estimation.
7. SlimG. Stop
8. RigH. Come slowly.
9. CeaseI. Calculation

True or False?

1.  Joe Biden received more votes than any other presidential candidate in US history. T / F

2. The previous president to break the record for most votes in US history was Bill Clinton. T / F

3. It is common for incumbent presidents to lose elections in the US. T / F

4. Kamala Harris will be the first woman vice-president in the US. T / F

5. The increased amount of mail-in ballots in this election did not affect the counting speed. T / F

6. It has been very common for people to vote by mail in past US elections. T / F

7. President Jimmy Carter conceded to Ronald Reagan before the polls closed. T / F

8. In the recent election, Trump supporters typically cast their vote by mail. T / F

9. Early on in the election, it looked like Trump had a lead. T / F

10. When Biden won Pennsylvania, it became official that he won. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. has / 46th President / Joe Biden / vice-president / elected / Former / been / the

2. 28 years / the / lose / first / to / an election / in / Trump / incumbent / President / is

3. also / 100 million / mail / decided / More / to / vote / by / people / than

4. a / picture / This / gives / everyone / clear / has / the election / won / of who

5. concerned / the / Trump / Many / in / regarding / are / US

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

American English Audio: 

OverwhelmingCampaignRemaining
TypicallyElectoralSwing
WillinglyDecisiveMinority

Former vice-president Joe Biden has been elected the 46th President of the United States. Biden’s win has come after a hard-fought (1)____________ during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Biden’s win is a historic victory as he has received more votes than any Presidential candidate in history, the previous record-holder was Barack Obama for his 2008 win. Biden’s win is also significant for the fact that incumbent Presidents almost never lose elections. Trump is the first incumbent President to lose an election in 28 years and only the fourth incumbent to lose in the past 100 years. In another historic victory, newly vice-president-elect Kamala Harris will be the first woman vice-president, the first Black vice-president and the first Asian vice-president in the US.

We now know that Biden won a very (2)____________ victory but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the election results initially seemed very close. More Americans voted in the 2020 election than in any election in the history of the country. Over 30 million more people voted in 2020 compared to 2016, although the votes are still being counted and that number could increase. Due to the (3)________________ turnout, vote counters in many states were inundated with ballots to count. More than 100 million people also decided to vote by mail, which is not common in all of the US. Due to the different voting and counting rules in various states, the results trickled in much slower this year than in previous years.

Although all of the votes are never counted on election night, it is common for the results of an election to be known on the night itself. This is done through projections based on how many votes have been counted, whose votes have been counted and how many votes are (4)______________. Organisations such as Associated Press have complicated algorithms that count, report and predict the results in each state. Once news organisations are 99.5% confident of the result in a state, they will “call” the state for one candidate. This gives everyone a clear picture of who has won the election, sometimes very quickly. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter conceded to then-nominee Ronald Reagan before the polls had even closed on the west coast because the projections were so strongly in Reagan’s favour. It was clear before voting ended on the west coast that Reagan had won.

This was not the situation in 2020. Due to the nature of the voting this year, the counting and projection methods became far more complicated. Trump voters (5)_____________ cast their votes on Election Day, while Biden supporters typically mailed them in. This meant that votes cast on the day itself were counted first and in some states, there were huge delays as they counted the unprecedented number of mail-in ballots. Therefore, on election night Trump took an early lead as his votes were mostly counted first. Things started to look bad for Biden as Trump won the key (6)_________ states of Florida and Ohio. No President has won an election without winning Florida and Ohio since 1960. This meant that Biden’s chances of winning looked slim in the early hours after voting had ended. As the hours of waiting turned into days of waiting, the votes continued to be counted and Biden began to catch Trump in the remaining key states.

On election night, Trump was leading in the key state of Pennsylvania by around 600,000 votes but around 2 million votes had not yet been counted. Election Day was Tuesday and it took until Saturday to declare a winner in Pennsylvania. Despite Trump’s early lead, he needed Pennsylvania in order to have any chance of winning the election as Biden had won many more (7)_____________ college votes than Trump. When Pennsylvania was called for Biden on Saturday, it became official that Biden had won the election. Biden has since won almost every state that people were waiting to hear the results for on Election Night. This includes the state of Georgia which has voted Republican (Trump’s party) in every election since 1992.

In the end, Biden won a huge victory over Trump but that hasn’t stopped Trump from declaring the election to be rigged and denying the results. Many in the US are concerned regarding Trump not accepting his defeat and not conceding, which is tradition. Although only a (8)_____________ of voters in the US believe Trump’s claims, that has not stopped him from continuing with his lies that the election was rigged. There is absolutely no proof of any cheating, fraud or rigging of the election. In fact, one recent study found that it was the most secure election in history. On January 20, Trump will leave the White House and cease to be President. The question is whether he leaves the White House (9)____________ or if he will be removed by force.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. What do you know about US elections?
5. Have you been following the 2020 US election?
6. Have there been any elections during the pandemic in your country?
7. What are elections like in your country?
8. What do you think about Joe Biden winning?
9. Are people in your country happy about the election result?
10. Do you think diversity in government positions is important?
11. Have there been any historical moments in elections in your country recently?
12. What do you think about Donald Trump refusing to concede?
13. Has a leader ever refused to concede in your country?
14. How important is it to protect democracy?
15. Has there ever been any fraud in elections in your country?
16. Are you surprised that Donald Trump won’t admit he has lost?
17. Do you think other countries will have a different opinion of the US with a new president?
18. Do you think the US will be better or worse with a new president?
19. What do you think about mail-in ballots?
20. Is mail-in voting popular in your country?