Those Americans who were alive and old enough to remember the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore are undoubtedly experiencing some post-traumatic stress at the moment.

The 2020 election is headed for a messy battle in the courts as a handful of tight state races remain “too close to call” and neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden have secured at least 270 electoral votes.

It didn’t have to be this way. We could have avoided this mess. But no, we’d rather live in fear of a virus. This all could have been avoided had our country stuck with in-person voting on election day rather than fiddling around with mail-in ballots and early voting periods.

Trump was headed for re-election as election night drew to a close

When most of the polls had closed and election night was nearing midnight, Trump was headed for almost certain victory. States that were won by this year’s candidates fell along the same party lines they did in 2016. The one exception was Arizona, which Fox News called for Biden despite all other major networks deeming it too close to call.

In the states that remained undecided, Trump held big advantages in more than enough of them to put him over the 270 needed electoral votes.

That’s when some fishy reporting went down.

In the wee hours of the morning, after several hours of inaction, some heavily Democratic precincts in Wisconsin and Michigan reported large batches of votes in favor of Biden. These curiously lopsided numbers flipped the balance of those state races in Biden’s favor and suddenly upended Trump’s presumed path to victory.

In the case of Michigan, a batch of more than 100,000 ballots were reported with every single one of them counted for Biden. Even if these ballots came from the most liberal city in the country, the idea that Trump would receive zero votes is preposterous.

Needless to say, something sketchy is going on. And that peculiarity is plenty of reason to demand a recount or to challenge it in court.

Mail-in and early voting caused erratic counting, reporting

Throughout the evening, the tallying and reporting of votes was very erratic. Many traditionally reliable red states — such as Texas, Kansas, Kentucky and others — reported early Biden leads. It’s not completely unnatural for this to happen, especially if urban precincts are among the first to report.

But these numbers were bigger than usual and they came from a larger share of precincts across the state. This, of course, was an anomaly because those states eventually fell in Trump’s column.

Why the disparate early results? Simply put: early voting and mail-in ballots heavily favored Biden and were counted first among votes cast in many states. As the evening progressed, in-person votes were tallied and eventually shifted the states into the correct column.

In other states, however, mail-in ballots were counted last rather than first. Such states include Wisconsin and Michigan, which have now become contested due to the ballots’ bizarrely one-sided votes.

Counting in-person ballots versus mail-in ballots is not a problem in and of itself. If a state can tally these votes in a timely, orderly fashion, there doesn’t appear to be a problem. But that’s only if the counting is done properly, something that we are now seeing is difficult to do. The fact that states are still counting mail-in ballots and could do so for several more days is inexcusable and unacceptable.

What we’re witnessing now is the tallying of ballots that involve too much human interaction. Because mail-in ballots require matching signatures, being properly secured in envelopes, and other such formalities, it requires poll workers to inject subjectivity into the process.

That is unsettling because there’s too much room for human error and bias.

This election mess could have been prevented with in-person voting

Why did so many states in this country insist on mail-in voting? And why do we continue to place such an emphasis on early voting?

The latter reason is simple: early voting was intended to ease the long lines on election day. It also enables Americans who might not be present in their precincts on election day to still participate in the election.

The former question has no valid answer. The reason for a large quantity of mail-in ballots this year is due to the irrational fear of COVID-19. In the dubious attempt to prevent a mass spreading of the illness, many states instead encouraged voters to vote early and to stay home on election day.

This needs to stop. I don’t mind the concept of absentee ballots, particularly for Americans serving or working overseas. But to send mail-in ballots — unrequested by many Americans, mind you — as a means to prevent further inflating COVID-19 cases is just hyper hysteria.

Because of this unnecessary consternation, the voting during this election has left a lot of room for fraud and improper computation.

Now we face great uncertainty in the days and weeks ahead. We will be staring down intense, contested vote counts and a long, drawn-out litigation.

This could have been avoided.