Trump, Biden supporters stage protests across U.S., as vote tally trickles in

By Joseph Tanfani, Katanga Johnson and Nathan Layne PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A second day of sometimes dueling demonstrations over the integrity of the U.S. presidential election started early on Thursday in Philadelphia and other cities as ballot counting dragged on in a handful of states that will decide the outcome

Reuters November 06, 2020 03:10:37 IST
Trump, Biden supporters stage protests across U.S., as vote tally trickles in

Trump Biden supporters stage protests across US as vote tally trickles in

By Joseph Tanfani, Katanga Johnson and Nathan Layne

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A second day of sometimes dueling demonstrations over the integrity of the U.S. presidential election started early on Thursday in Philadelphia and other cities as ballot counting dragged on in a handful of states that will decide the outcome.

Supporters of Joe Biden have rallied around the slogan to "count every vote," believing a complete tally would show the Democratic former vice president had beaten Republican President Donald Trump. Some ardent Trump backers have countered with cries to "protect the vote" in support of his campaign's efforts to have some categories of ballots, including some votes submitted by mail, discarded.

Both factions appeared outside a vote-counting center in Philadelphia on Thursday morning, where election staff steadily worked through a mountain of still-uncounted mail-in ballots that will determine whether Biden or Trump will take Pennsylvania's crucial 20 Electoral College votes.

A group of Trump supporters held Trump-Pence flags and signs saying: "Vote stops on Election Day" and "Sorry, polls are closed." Across the street were Biden supporters, who danced to music behind a barricade.

"We can't allow the ballot counters to be intimidated," said Bob Posuney, a 70-year-old Biden-supporting retired social worker with a "count every vote" T-shirt, speaking as the sounds of Marvin Gaye's song "What's Going On" filled the air.

In Harrisburg, about a hundred Trump supporters gathered on the steps of the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building on Thursday afternoon as part of a "Stop the Steal" rally organized by conservative activist Scott Presler. Some carried Trump signs, others American flags, and a few wore T-shirts emblazoned with a logo denoting the conspiracy theory known as QAnon.

"This is not a rally supporting a particular candidate," Presler, who is from Virginia, said at the rally. "This is a rally fighting for two things: truth and justice." He said in an interview he planned to raise funds himself for an audit of the state's tally.

Republican U.S. Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, an outspoken supporter of Trump, said at the rally he was concerned about ballots that arrived without a clear postmark.

"The administration wants to count every legal vote, every legitimate ballot," Jordan said in an interview. "This is the closest election we've maybe ever had. You don't want ballots that arrived after the Election Day with an indistinguishable postmark."

Earlier on Thursday, a state appellate court ruled that Republican observers could enter the Philadelphia building where poll workers were counting ballots.

In response, city election officials moved a barrier keeping the public off the counting floor to within six feet of the closest counting table, said Kevin Feeley, a spokesman for the elections office. No one from either the Biden or Trump campaigns is being allowed to stand at the tables while the counting goes on, he said.

ARGUMENTS AND ARRESTS

Although counting was already completed in Michigan, which news outlets projected Biden had won, a few dozen Trump supporters waved flags and signs outside a Detroit counting center. At one point, a Black Trump supporter got into a yelling match with a Black Democrat over Trump's record on Black issues as police looked on.

Elizabeth Fohey, a 74-year-old retired dental hygienist from Troy, Michigan, said she was skeptical that election officials were counting all conservative votes. She complained that Republican poll challengers were not allowed into a Detroit counting center, which is untrue.

"My message is to have the vote done correctly," she said, dressed in a U.S.-flag-themed windbreaker. "I'm working for my country, to keep my country free and safe."

In Wisconsin, Bobbie Dunlap, an information technology worker who lives in Genoa City, complained that she voted in person for Trump on Election Day but her vote still not been marked as processed on Wisconsin's website, though counting remains underway in the state.

"We are organizing a peaceful march on the capital to ask for a full audit of the election here in Wisconsin," she said. Trump's campaign has called for a recount in the state.

In Washington, a procession of cars and bicycles, sponsored by activists from a group called Shutdown DC, paraded slowly through the streets of the capital to protest "an attack on the democratic process" by Trump and his "enablers," according to its website.

Most demonstrations in cities around the country have been peaceful and small — sometimes amounting only to a few dozen people with signs standing in a city center — as Biden's path to victory looks a bit more assured than Trump's, even though either outcome remains possible.

On Wednesday, a few demonstrations led to clashes with police. The demonstrations were triggered in part by Trump's comments following Tuesday's Election Day in which he demanded that vote counting stop and made unsubstantiated, conspiratorial claims about voter fraud.

Police in New York City, Denver, Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon, all reported they had arrested some protesters, often on charges of blocking traffic or similar misdemeanors.

Hoping to avoid Election Day crowds during the coronavirus pandemic, more than 100 million Americans submitted ballots during early voting this year, a record-breaking number.

(Reporting by Joseph Tanfani in Philadelphia; Nathan Layne in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Maria Caspani in New York; Katanga Johnson in Atlanta; Mimi Dwyer in Phoenix, Arizona; Gabriella Borter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Michael Martina in Detroit; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Writing by Jonathan Allen and Frank McGurty; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Peter Graff and Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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