October 27, 2020 11:00am

Most influencers trust system, even without winner on Election Night

This year is already one like no other.

By Hannah Morse
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This year is already one like no other.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way voters cast their ballot, which has raised concerns about the timing of the results, as some states like Pennsylvania can only begin counting ballots on Nov. 3. 

COVID-19 may also change how, or if, we gather with friends and family for the approaching fall and winter holidays, and the timeline for when to make the transition from working remotely to in-person.

Palm Beach Post Power Poll: Majority of respondents said reopening in-person classes was right thing to do

We asked local influencers to give their impressions on these topics. Of the 414 polled, nearly a quarter responded.

Election results

The Post asked influencers that, if no winner in the presidential election was decided on Election Night, would you have faith that the system will eventually determine the accurate winner?

A majority of local leaders say they have faith in the system to determine an accurate winner.

Pamela Goodman, past president of the League of Women Voters Florida, said so many pieces of legislation have been written and gobs of money spent to evolve our elections system in the last two decades.

"After living through the 2000 election in Palm Beach County, I’ve seen the changes we have been put into place throughout our state," she said. "If we couldn’t get it right in 20 years, we’ve got bigger problems."

Jody Young, a Wellington-based marketing and campaign consultant said unless there is a winner determined in an "obvious landslide," it's to be expected to not immediately know who wins in a statewide race. It's possible, but not guaranteed, that it would take weeks, he said.

"For Democracy to work there must be faith and trust in our system of government," Young said. "Cooler heads must prevail during an unmatched era of vitriol and rancor that will test the very fabric of our country."

Rampant fraud can't happen without the "checks and balances that our supervisors of elections adhere to," said Mark Marciano, a Palm Beach Gardens city councilman.

"Any thought that our elections are manipulated to determine a pre-decided outcome is not only baseless, but dangerous to the very democracy that we hold so dear," he said.

Nearly 19 percent say they didn't, expressing strong concerns and lobbying insults against the opposing party.

Robert Watson, a history professor at Lynn University, pointed to the lawsuits across the country filed by Republicans to limit access to vote-by-mail and in-person voting.

"The President has been undermining confidence in the election system, inaccurately telling the public mail-in voting is a fraud, claiming the only way he will lose is if the election is a hoax, encouraging his supporters to show up and watch people voting (which is illegal), joking to 'vote twice,' and he has refused to confirm a peaceful and civil transfer of power if he loses. All this raises concerns about the integrity of the election," Watson said.

Former Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein claimed Joe Biden would not concede "regardless of the count." Hillary Clinton said in a Showtime documentary that Biden should "not concede under any circumstances because I think this is going to drag out," according to reports.

"Voter fraud is a foundational strategy of the Democrat Party," Dinerstein said. "Indeed, is there anyone who believes that if President Trump is reelected he will get the 'honeymoon' that he still hasn't received from his 2016 election? I rest my case."

COVID and the holidays

Another question centered on the upcoming holidays, asking whether they expected to make plans as usual.

A total of 44 influencers haven't made holiday plans yet but said they would wait to see the health data before making any determinations, while 37 said they would stay home and host their extended family members virtually.

The smallest percentage, or 21 people, said they would forge ahead on plans to travel or gather with friends and family.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said celebrating with members of your own household is a low risk for spreading COVID-19. Long gatherings that are indoors with lots of people mean attendees have a higher risk of contracting the virus.

People who have or have been exposed to COVID-19, or those with increased risk of severe illness, should not attend in-person gatherings, the CDC said.

"Unfortunately the holidays will probably be altered in some fashion," said Eric Hopkins, vice president of Hundley Farms.

That's the same for Jack Furnari of BizPac Review.

"We haven't canceled our usual holiday plans, but we have scaled them back," he said.

Congresswoman Lois Frankel said she would be spending the holidays with "only immediate family."

Zoom meetings the new normal?

While many will celebrate the day they never have to hop on a Zoom call again, influencers are split on whether remote work should be the norm when workers are allowed to go back to the office.

In answering the question of whether working remotely should be the norm once the pandemic subsides, 48 people said yes, remote work should be accepted even when others return to the office, while 54 people said no.

"Once the pandemic is under control, and businesses begin to welcome their workers back to offices, stores, restaurants, etc., I believe that working from home should be a valid option for those who have embraced working from home," said Monica Mayoette, a Boca Raton city councilwoman. "If it works for them, their families, and their employers, workers should be able to continue to work from home,"

Remote work has been a plus for teachers, said school board member Erica Whitfield.

"One of the best things to come out of the pandemic is that the school system strengthened its ability to teach our children remotely. There are long term benefits that we will see from this, including opportunities to educate children outside of the building when they have anything from a simple cold to a suspension or expulsion from school," she said.

Michelle McGovern, former statewide coordinator for Sen. Bill Nelson and currently the government and community relations director for Baptist Health South Florida, said she doesn't believe remote work will be the law of the land, but it has been crucial for working parents.

"Companies have been able to adapt and in many cases, thrive with their employees working from home," she said.

Many who responded to the poll said humans need physical interaction. 

"It’s the same reason isolation causes so many serious issues with both mental and physical health. Zoom and conference calls can’t substitute for live and in person on a long term and regular basis. Too much social media is already showing the negative effects on humans. I for one am looking forward to those water fountain chats," said Anita Mitchell, vice president of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line and former Palm Beach County GOP chair.

Palm Beach Post Power Poll

Each month, we send email surveys to hundreds of Palm Beach County government, business and community leaders, asking about the top issues of the day. We’ll report the results here in the Palm Beach Post where you can also see who’s on our panel.

Power Poll Members: Do you have a friend or colleague who should be on Power Poll? Please invite them to join!

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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