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This Isn't The First Time People Have Anxiously Waited For Election Returns

We won't know who the winner of the US presidential election is for an undetermined amount of time. We're not the first Americans to wait.

Posted on November 4, 2020, at 10:27 a.m. ET

If you're anxious right now, you're not alone. Many Americans across the political spectrum are struggling with their feelings. But this is not an invitation to grind your teeth or bite your nails down to tiny, tiny nubs. Instead it's a reminder to take deep breaths, take care of yourself and your loved ones, and think about your role in our country the next four years, no matter what the outcome.

With mail-in voting at an all-time high due to the coronavirus pandemic, we don't know when we'll know the projected winner. While the election has yet to be called, this stress and doomscrolling has happened before, and people survived it. We assembled some historical photos of different election stressfests as people wait and watch the returns.

Crowd of people watching a screen, which we only see the back of
Yale Joel / The LIFE Picture Collection

People gathering at Washington state Democratic Party headquarters during election night in Seattle, Washington, 1964.

Man writing on chalkboard
CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images

A man writes in the results of the presidential election on a chalkboard, Nov. 2, 1948. Despite a three-way split in the Democratic base, President Harry Truman won reelection against challenger Gov. Thomas E. Dewey.

Man holds his temples in election number room
Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

California state Sen.-elect Richard Alarcon goes over numbers with his staff shortly after the polls closed on June 2, 1998, at his campaign office in North Hollywood. Early returns showed him trailing opponent Richard Katz by double digits.

David Hume Kennerly / Getty Images

President Bill Clinton watches returns along during election night at the Old State House in Little Rock, Arkansas, Nov. 5, 1996, during his second bid for the White House.

Nancy Pelosi looking over election returns.
San Francisco Chronicle / Getty Images

Nancy Pelosi looks over early returns with Jemma Turner and John Burton at election headquarters on primary election night, April 7, 1987.

Men in camouflage watching a television with election results
Eliana Aponte / Reuters

US Marines from Charlie Company watch news about the tight US presidential race at a base near Iraq's rebel-held western city of Falluja, Nov. 3, 2004.

Numbers and faces on election ticker tags on a table
CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images

Tally board numbers and tags featuring photos of John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon from the 1960 general election night returns at CBS News on Nov. 8, 1960.

Old Times Square with crowd of people
Photoquest / Getty Images

An elevated night view of people gathered in Times Square to get early election returns in New York, Nov. 2, 1948. If you look closely, you can see Truman on the screen.

George Bush and family watching television
Owen Franken - Corbis / Getty Images

George H.W. Bush and his family watch the election results in the hotel room, on Nov. 8, 1988, in Houston.

Man and woman watching election returns on television
George Widman / Associated Press

W. Wilson Goode and his wife, Velma, smile as they see news heavy voter turn out in West Philadelphia in the Democratic primary election on May 17, 1983.

People working on election night
Afro American Newspapers / Getty Images

People working on the reports from precincts in an election, tabulating results, 1958.

Keystone-France / Getty Image

The speakers from the radio station La Voix de L'Amerique transmitting the result of the US presidential elections in worldwide languages in 1952.

Large crowd of people in Times Square
Library Of Congress / Getty Images

New Yorkers pack Times Square to watch the 1940 presidential election results under the glow of neon signs at night.

Men in black-and-white photo crowded around a TV
George Silk / Getty Images

Election night at Kennedy Headquarters in 1960, as Nixon half-concedes defeat.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan watching multiple televisions
Jean-louis Atlan, via Getty Images

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan watching election results at the Plaza in 1984.

Man speaking into a very old microphone
CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images

Newscaster Mel Allen reads New York City mayoral election night coverage and returns over CBS Radio, Nov. 4, 1941.

Family watching television
Boston Globe / Getty Images

Boston mayoral candidate Ray Flynn watches the 8 p.m. election results at his home in South Boston with his family, Nov. 15, 1983.

George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

Los Angeles 12th District city council candidate Greig Smith reacts to early returns that show him in the lead at his campaign headquarters in Granada Hills in 2003.

Man scratching his head
Boston Globe / Getty Images

Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank and his mother, Elsie, watch the returns from their Framingham hotel suite as Frank wins the Democratic nomination for the 4th Congressional District on Sept. 16, 1980.

Happy people.
Ellen Ozier / Reuters

Obama supporters (from left) Michelle Ester, Joyce Townes, Edward Townes, Earline Wallace, and Jackie Woods react as they watch election returns at an election night party at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina, Nov. 4, 2008.

A woman in a chair looking sad in an empty hall.

A girl slouches in a chair at the Democratic Party's headquarters in Washington, DC, as her boyfriend scans election returns on Nov. 7, 1956, after a walloping Republican victory.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.