PHILADELPHIA — As Pennsylvania officials continue counting mail-in ballots — a process President Donald Trump has tried to stop through legal action — Democrats protested in Philadelphia on Thursday, calling on officials to “count every vote.”
The protest, an upbeat demonstration full of dancing and flags and drums, was a continuation of the previous day’s protests, which saw progressive Pennsylvanians fighting for all the votes to be counted in their key swing state. Hundreds of people marched in the streets, merging with protesters who gathered following the release of bodycam footage showing the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr.
Trump campaign officials Corey Lewandowski and Pam Bondi spoke outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where the demonstration was taking place, and where a smaller protest of Trump supporters was simultaneously occurring.
They were there to speak about a new court order Trump’s team is claiming as a big win, but which does not actually change anything about the election results. The order only allows poll observers to stand closer to poll workers.
“We’re going to start watching what’s going on, not from 30 feet away, not from 100 feet away, from 6 feet away,” Lewandowski said.
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But the Trump officials were largely drowned out, however, by protesters blasting Beyoncé’s “Party” (featuring André 3000) loudly from speakers.
Nicolas O’Rourke, the organizing director for Pennsylvania’s Working Families Party and the one playing the music, told BuzzFeed News he was there to amplify “the voices of people that are unheard, through our chants, through our song, through our joy.”
“We are here because we heard there are people coming to invalidate the votes being counted and tabulated across the street,” he said.
O’Rourke said he and his fellow organizers came prepared with an empowering playlist, which included plenty of Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, and of course, more Beyoncé.
“This is the stuff that fuels our fire, and that’s the reason why we play it,” O’Rourke said. “There are messages in the song. We wanted that to be played.”
“We’re fighting for freedom, and so hopefully that message gets across,” he added. “We ain’t gonna lose. We’re gonna commit to making sure every vote is counted.”
O’Rourke said he was not dismayed by the presence of the right-wing protesters, and that the “Count Every Vote” demonstrators — who largely outnumbered them — would continue to make their voices heard.
“If you’re in Philadelphia and want to protest, we have no problem with your protest,” O’Rourke said. “We know how to protest too.”
As the count continues, Trump’s lead of more than 100,000 over Joe Biden has narrowed and is expected to continue to dwindle as officials sort through about half a million remaining ballots, mostly from urban areas.
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said in a CNN interview they “definitely could” know the winner by the end of Thursday.
“Counties are furiously at work, and it looks like we’re ahead of schedule,” Boockvar said on CNN.
She is due to deliver an update to the media at 5:15 p.m. ET.
On Oct. 28, the US Supreme Court denied Pennsylvania Republicans’ request to expedite a ruling on their challenge to the state’s deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots, which was extended to Nov. 6 following a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision.
Trump has lashed out at the decision, calling the voting extension “a disaster” and claiming “Democrats are trying to steal the election” — a thing he himself has tried to do by lying about the election results to falsely claim victory before all the votes were even close to counted.
There is no evidence of voter fraud or votes being miscounted in Pennsylvania, despite what Trump has claimed.
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The ruling Lewandowski and Bondi touted as a win on Thursday is an entirely separate court decision, which states that poll watchers must be able to observe the process in a “meaningful way.”
Outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Thursday, one Republican poll watcher, 64-year-old Patrick Pellicciotti, told BuzzFeed News he was concerned poll workers were throwing away Trump voters’ ballots — a baseless conspiracy theory that has spread online.
“They’re so far away we can’t see nothing,” Pellicciotti said, adding that he volunteered “because I want a fair election.”
Poll watchers are a legitimate and legal part of the electoral process, but in the lead-up to this year’s elections, Trump and his campaign have urged supporters with militaristic language to “watch” the polls for voter fraud, prompting unease about voter intimidation.
Pellicciotti said he was worried about Trump winning Pennsylvania, but wanted all the mail-in ballots to be counted.
“It’s hard,” he said. “I would say I want them, because they might be for Trump. I think every vote should be counted. It’s only fair.”