(NEXSTAR) — It used to be that Election Day meant your social media feed was crowded with images of friends showing off their “I voted” stickers, but as with so many other things, 2020 has upended what was once normal. Now photos are coming in from across the country showing a nation preparing for protest.
Though there has been no specific threat in most communities, ominous headlines about violence “warning signs” and militia uprisings circulating on the internet and a summer of racial tensions and unrest have made people extremely anxious about the outcome of the most divisive campaign in recent history.
One result of all that anxiety is a big jump in plywood sales as storefronts across the country are covered over to protect window displays and the merchandise inside.
The images below are a small sampling of precautions taken in major American cities ahead of Election Day 2020.
SALT LAKE CITY
What makes this election different from those in the past are the swirling questions about voter intimidation, lawsuits and counting delays related to the coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump has already indicated he may reject the result of the election if he loses. The stage is set for a chaotic finish no matter what the final numbers say.
Trump has sought to undermine the election results for several months by raising debunked conspiracy theories about election fraud. He has repeatedly refused to say whether he would agree to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has promised to accept the results no matter what, but that doesn’t mean that Democrats won’t end up in an extended court battle in certain states if things don’t go their way — particularly if there are any Election Day disruptions or court rulings that throw out a significant numbers of mail ballots.
Never before in modern U.S. history has there been such uncertainty looming over basic rules of democracy at the end of an election. Voters and communities on both sides are hoping that the conclusion of the 2020 race will return some sense of stability to American life.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.