Americans line up at polling stations; Vienna police search for suspects; Bobi Wine arrested in Uganda

Nov 3, 2020

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Around the globe, people are watching with great anticipation as voters in the United States head to the polls in the 2020 presidential election. Almost 100 million Americans have already voted — nearly three-quarters of the total number of votes cast in 2016. Tuesday’s vote caps off the most tumultuous campaign in recent memory and is a test of endurance and democracy. Around 50 million more people are expected to wait in lines today to choose between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

The nation — along with many others throughout the world — is traumatized by the coronavirus pandemic, struggling to overcome the worst recession since the Great Depression and many are hoping to return to political normalcy. Officials are concerned that tensions are at risk of boiling over and many pundits have raised fears of violence in the streets, delays amid chaotic vote tallying and electoral disputes playing out later in the courts.

The election mainly hinges on Americans’ perceptions of how well the incumbent has handled COVID-19, which has killed more than 231,000 people, and whether Trump’s economic record can stand the test of time. The White House had aimed to finalize a vaccine and a second fiscal stimulus package before Nov. 3 — neither of which has come to fruition. ChinaRussia and Iran are among the three most pressing foreign policy challenges facing the next president and the specter of climate change looms large in the background.

The electorate choosing the winner is increasingly diverse, with young Latinos emerging as one of the most important demographic groups to watch in 2020. And across the planet, Indian citizens are torn between loyalty to Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris in her ancestral village and Hindu nationalist prayers for Trump in New Delhi. In some unlikely places, like Nigeria, the Republican populist has noisy fans, while in Europe the vast majority of people have pinned hopes on a Biden victory.

What The World is following

Austrian police in Vienna are still searching for suspects after a gunman killed four people in an overnight shooting rampage. Security forces killed one suspect who was wearing a fake explosive belt and identified him as a 20-year-old Islamist extremist inspired by ISIS. The perpetrators fired at outdoor bar crowds as people enjoyed their last evening out before the beginning of a nationwide curfew. In total, six locations were attacked — starting with the area outside Vienna’s main synagogue. Officials said the main suspect was armed with an automatic rifle, handgun and machete.

In Uganda, police have again detained popular singer and politician Bobi Wine, following his certification to run in that country’s presidential election next year. The widely loved performer was pulled from his car just after he entered the race to replace long-time Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Critics accuse Museveni of relying on the armed forces to solidify his reign. Authorities have often alleged that Wine is behind political rallies that could disturb the peace.

2020 US electionThe political power of Latino youth

The Latino vote is one of the fastest-growing demographic groups in the United States. Approximately every 30 seconds, a Latino in the US turns 18 and becomes eligible to vote. The World has been examining the Latino vote and Latino voters all year.

In this episode, hear how US President Donald Trump has alienated many Latinos with his anti-immigrant rhetoric — but a sizable bloc still support him. And, Latinos have been disproportionately affected by climate change. Plus, hear how three young Latinos are getting ready to vote.

Explore more of our Every 30 Seconds series:

From The WorldWhat Russian college students learn about US elections, history and race relations

What does the US election process look like from a global perspective? Ivan Kurilla, a political science professor at the European University at St. Petersburg in Russia, teaches students about US history and politics. Kurilla told The World's host Marco Werman that the US election this year is less gripping for Russians than it was four years ago, but that still people are interested.

"Students are interested in the outcome," he said. "They're interested in how American democracy works. We always need to discuss the American system of elections. And this is always an interesting topic."

Tanzanian opposition leaders arrested following election

Tanzanian presidential candidate Tundu Lissu has been released from jail after police briefly arrested and interrogated him, he told The World.

The circumstances around Lissu’s arrest remain unclear. But he is the latest member of the Chadema opposition party to be arrested in the days following Tanzania’s contested presidential election last Wednesday.


What are your election day plans? Are you voting by mail or in person? On The World today, we're featuring several expats living in countries around the globe who are keeping a close eye on the election from afar. Where will you be watching the election from today?

In case you missed itListen: What’s the future of US-Israel relations?

For decades Israel has enjoyed a unique relationship with the US in defense and security cooperation. Under the Trump administration, many Israelis feel that relationship has been fruitful. Would the relationship look any different under a potential Biden administration? And, on US Election Day, our social media news feeds will likely be filled with stories about how foreign actors have worked to derail the US election process. So how can we assess these claims? Also, former US security contractor Edward Snowden is seeking Russian citizenship for himself, his wife and their unborn baby, who is due in December. 

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From The World ©2019