A crowd of about 100 people gathered in Princeton’s Hinds Plaza to condemn calls from President Donald Trump and his campaign to stop counting mail-in and absentee votes in a “Protect the Results” rally on Wednesday.
“The only way he [President Trump] can win is to stop every vote from counting,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the N.J. Sierra Club, who spoke at the rally. “We’re here to say not only that every vote counts, but every voter should be counted. That’s what this is about.”
As of 6 p.m. EST on Thursday, Associated Press (AP) has called 264 electoral votes for Biden and remains at 214 for Trump, with Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Alaska still too close to be called due to uncounted mail-in and absentee ballots. Several other news sources, including The New York Times and NBC, have not yet declared a winner in Arizona.
In some states, chiefly Michigan and Arizona, protesters supporting President Trump have called for a stop to ballot counting, although election officials continued counting through the protests. Leaders within the campaign, including Eric Trump and Rudy Giuliani, have also attempted to discredit mail-in voting in Pennsylvania. These developments are in line with misleading claims and false declarations of victory from President Trump’s Twitter account — such as one stating, in contradiction to Pennsylvania election law, that “ANY VOTE THAT CAME IN AFTER ELECTION DAY WILL NOT BE COUNTED!”
According to the recent Supreme Court ruling, absentee ballots that arrive after election day may still be counted as long as they are postmarked by election day.
The rally in downtown Princeton was part of “Protect the Results,” a national movement that encompassed over 150 similar events being planned in cities around the country, with the overarching mission statement of ensuring every vote is counted. This and other “Protect the Results” rallies across the country aim “to demand that the losing candidate put their ego aside and concede for the good of our country.”
Masks were required for all attendees to the event, and guests were spaced out throughout the plaza. Organizers handed out signs before the event with slogans such as “Democracy means all votes count” and “Count Every Vote,” and many guests also brought their own signs.
“I don’t care who you voted for, because democracy requires that every citizen get to have a vote and to know that vote will be counted,” said Rev. Robert Moore, Executive Director of the Coalition for Peace Action, at the event. “This is the cornerstone of our democracy, and it’s under threat.”
Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert echoed similar sentiments.
“In a democracy that works, every voter must have their voice heard, and to have their voice heard, you need to have your vote counted, and all the votes need to be counted,” she said at the event. “This idea that you want to stop the counting when you have a stack of ballots, it’s hard to even imagine someone making that suggestion with a straight face. It’s such an insult to our democratic process.”
Some speakers specifically rebuked the Trump campaign’s claims of widespread voter fraud as justification to “stop the count.” Moore cited in his remarks the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, which concluded only one of every 100,000 votes cast in the state of Oregon was subject to fraud.
“That doesn’t sound like it’s rampant to me,” Moore said.
“Count every vote, every vote must count,” chanted the crowd at numerous points throughout the rally. In the middle of the event, Michigan’s 16 electoral votes were called for Joe Biden by AP, news of which was met with resounding cheers from the crowd.
Dena Mottola Jaborska, associate director of New Jersey Citizen Action, expressed hope that the rally — and the overarching “Protect the Results” movement — would be successful, telling attendees that “election officials, even Republican governors, are asserting they are going to count every vote.”
Rev. Lukata Mjumbe, pastor of Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, spoke about the decision made by the American people to “make some real change for democracy in this country” in the results of the election.
“We’ve made that decision, and that’s why it’s so horrifying when we see the things that we see in Washington, when we hear the things that we heard last night,” Mjumbe said, referencing the attempts to stop counting ballots early.
Princeton University history professor Sean Wilentz said he thought that when the ballots were finally counted, it would represent not only a Biden victory, but a “substantial repudiation of Donald J. Trump.”
Mjumbe expressed similar confidence in a Biden victory, but emphasized a call for action and activism no matter the result.
“Whether Biden prevails — and I believe that he will when every vote is counted — or we have four more years of an orange menace, we have a responsibility to do the work in between election times,” he said.
The event was co-hosted by the Coalition for Peace Action, the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, and Indivisible Cranbury.