Dozens of residents took to the streets in Mountain View on Wednesday to demand that every vote be counted in the 2020 election, following concerns that President Donald Trump may try to subvert a fair election process and a peaceful transition of power.
The protest at the corner of El Camino Real and San Antonio Road was one of numerous events taking place across the Bay Area on Nov. 4, responding to what organizers describe as worrying statements from the president. In recent days, Trump has challenged the validity of mail-in ballots and has floated the idea of prematurely halting the vote count.
Trump on election night tweeted without basis that the Democratic party is attempting to "steal" the election — a post that has since been hidden by the social media company for containing false or misleading statements.
Amid the protesters who held signs that read "Don't let democracy die" and "Count every vote," Mountain View resident Mark Lentczner said he felt compelled to join in the protest after seeing Trump's statements.
Lentczner said it's strange to be at a point where the country is debating whether to count votes and that he does not believe Trump's comments should be disregarded as empty threats.
"Even if the electoral count decides a winner, we have an administration that is filing lawsuits as we speak," he said.
The local rally is part of the "Protect the Results" movement. Palo Alto resident Stephen Rosenblum, who helped organize the event, said the goal of the protest is to simply support that all votes be counted in the election, warning that Trump has no qualms with violating custom and legality to get what he wants. Rosenblum said he has no doubt that Trump won't go quietly.
Rosenblum said he is nearly 80 years old and has been through numerous presidencies, but he has never seen an election like this before.
"It's just a very unusual time for our country right now," he said.
As of 7 a.m. Thursday, former Vice President Joe Biden had a sizable lead in the presidential race, with 72.2 million votes and a projected 264 Electoral College votes, while Trump had 68.7 million votes and a projected 214 Electoral College votes. Key battleground states that had not been called for either candidate include Pennsylvania, Nevada and North Carolina.
Other events taking place Wednesday include an all-day event at San Jose City Hall with protesters — including reverend and rabbi speakers — who demanded a peaceful transition of power.
A larger network of more than 150 organizations called off coordinated nationwide protest on Wednesday, Rosenblum said, in large part because Trump has not taken any egregious action. "The president hasn't really done anything except threaten lawsuits to stop counting the ballots, but so far we haven't really seen any substantive effort to stop the proper ballot-counting process," Rosemblum said. "I'm feeling less anxious than I did yesterday."
So why move forward with the protest? Rosenblum said he felt it was important to give people the opportunity to attend a post-election demonstration and let their voices be heard on an election that has left many feeling anxious and uneasy. There were no fiery speeches over speakerphones, Rosenblum said, but enough to solicit support from cars passing by.
"We want to let people know that we're here to support democracy, and if they agree they can honk back."