Coalition of activists plans widespread protests if Trump is found meddling with election
WASHINGTON (US) – If President Donald Trump appears to meddle with vote counting or manipulate poll results after Election Day, millions of Americans from both parties will take to the streets in protest, said dozens of activists claiming to represent voters.
The coalition named “Protect the Results” comprises more than 130 groups from Planned Parenthood to Republicans for the Rule of Law. It has planned 400 events as early as the afternoon on November 4.
“We can’t assume that Donald Trump will respect the peaceful transfer of power,” said Sean Eldridge, the founder and president of Stand Up America, which began forming this coalition in June.
He said if the president tries to meddle in the counting of votes or put pressure on state or local officials to say that ballots should no longer be counted, “then we would mobilise,” he said.
Activists said it is difficult to determine the extent of interference, but it could include refusing to accept the vote tallies of states or declaring an early victory.
“We are very concerned that Trump is going to try to steal this election, using his position of power,” said Kaela Bamberger, an organiser with Shut Down DC, which will plan civil action, including blocking traffic in the capital.
Bamberger said lessons from other countries that have witnessed coups show that “time is of the essence. The longer the person claims to be in power and tries to force their position of power to be extended, the more likely it is there’s nothing to be done about it.”
The president has not promised a peaceful transfer of power. On the other hand, he has warned of the possibility of fraud from mail-in ballots. Other Republicans have rejected the notion that he won’t step down if he loses.
A result should be announced on Tuesday, said Trump this week. But it is unlikely given the huge spurt in mail-in ballots that require time to be counted in the wake of the pandemic.
“The President will accept the results of a free and fair election,” White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews.
“We Count on Us,” a coalition comprising student activists, is planning hundreds of peaceful demonstrations at city halls and counting stations to ensure that “no lines are crossed,” said Neha Desaraju of the Sunrise Movement, a part of the coalition.
The National Council on Election Integrity has shelled out $4.5 million on voting education ads, according to spokesman Michael Beckel.
“Because of the pandemic, things look different this year, and that will require us to be more patient than usual,” Beckel said.