Protesters pro- and anti-Trump converge at Philadelphia vote counting center
Eleonore Sens of AFP
November 5, 2020
As poll workers scrambled Thursday to tally ballots in the key US state of Pennsylvania, supporters of President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden held tense demos at the main vote counting center in Pennsylvania, the state's largest city.
Biden supporters want ever vote counted, while Trump backers want votes that came in by mail after election day be ignored -- and support the president's unsubstantiated claims that the mail-in ballot system was riddled with fraud.
A crowd of activists from the organization Count Every Vote danced to music like Childish Gambino's "This Is America" and rallied in front of the city's convention center, where police and reporters from around the world also converged.
On another corner some 30 Trump supporters wielding flags and signs gathered behind police barriers and officer protection.
Pennsylvania could finalize its election vote count as early as Thursday -- and Biden is set to secure the White House if the state's votes go his way.
"I'm here because American democracy is at risk," said Melissa Dunphy, a college professor demonstrating with "Count Every Vote."
"We have an administration who has stated boldly that they are going to ignore the true results of this election and try to steal the election from what I believe to be the correct winner," the 40-year-old said.
- Tensions high -
While tensions remained high there were no reported clashes.
Police were on high alert, and a helicopter hovered overhead keeping a watchful eye.
A young woman flipped her middle finger at a Trump protestor, who in turn called her a "satanist."
Another Trump supporter, this one sporting a cowboy hat, shook hands with police officers, thanking them for protection.
Trump supporters voiced unsubstantiated fears of "widespread corruption" and "fake ballots," echoing the president's accusations.
"They stopped the election on election night so they could stop and go get some fake ballots so they could win," said Diann Candan, a retired police officer.
"They're committing fraud right now."
Ray Cortez, a 55-year-old technician who also backs Trump, said "there's no way to secure the integrity of the vote."
Biden leads Trump in the all-important electoral vote count that determines the election winner, and a Pennsylvania victory would put him over the magic threshold of 270 electoral votes needed to win -- regardless of the outcome in remaining states yet to be called.
The gap between the rivals in Pennsylvania has been narrowing as the state counts its mail-in ballots, which have tended to favor Biden.
Emma Kaplan, 30, was among those demanding the tallying continue: "We refuse to accept the fascist America," she said.
"Trump is doing a rolling coup to steal these elections, and it's illegitimate," she added.
"Count all the votes!"