Members and supporters of Northwest Arkansas political groups gathered near the Washington County Courthouse Wednesday night to advocate that every presidential vote be counted before the election is called.
Sheila Czech, branch organizer for Socialist Alternative, said the protest was organized in reaction to the news that President Donald Trump wanted election officials to stop counting votes in certain states despite mail-in ballots continuing to trickle in. Trump said in a post on Twitter that he plans to challenge states recently claimed by Biden for voter and state election fraud.
The event was arranged by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Socialist Alternative, the Democratic Socialists of Northwest Arkansas and NWA $15 Now. These groups believe that Trump will not easily concede defeat in the election and is dangerously close to provoking a constitutional crisis, according to the event page on Facebook.
Czech, 43, thinks calling the election before all the votes have been counted would be an attack on basic democratic rights, she said.
“We have a right to vote,” Czech said. “It’s not fair if certain people’s votes get counted and others don’t. That’s not democratic at all.”
Aaron Connelly, a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, thinks voting by mail was a safer option for a large number of people amid the pandemic, such as the immunocompromised.
The increased counting of mail-in ballots has widened Biden’s lead on President Trump as Michigan and Wisconsin flipped blue Wednesday morning. Many of the mail-in ballots favor Biden because Trump encouraged his supporters to vote at the polls on election day, while the Democratic Party advocated for the submission of votes in advance, according to The New York Times.
“We know the mail-in ballots are more predominantly Biden supporters, which is why Donald Trump is making such a fuss about those voters in the first place,” Connelly, 26, said. “He knows that if those votes are counted, that could really sway the election against him.”
Ashley Lopez, a 22-year-old Fayetteville resident, said that because the initial statistics published Tuesday night didn’t include a large number of mail-in ballots, Trump tried to prematurely declare victory. Lopez thinks that rushing election results is a very dangerous thing to do, and she does not want Trump to be elected illegitimately.
No matter how the election pans out, Lopez thinks voting is not enough on its own to enact change in society, she said. She thinks furthering movements to support the working class is crucial in the fight towards much-needed reforms, such as making Medicare available for everyone.
Connelly said he does not think either candidate will do much good for the country if elected to the White House, but he wanted to protest against voter suppression and a potential power grab from Trump. He wants people to recognize that even if the election goes Biden’s way, the fight for democracy and equality is not over.
“We believe in truly ending war and poverty,” Connelly said. “We believe in peace and the liberation of all people from this horrific, racist, sexist and imperialist system.”