BURLINGTON, Vt. – Dozens gathered in front of Burlington City Hall on Wednesday evening, rallying around calls for every vote to be counted in the 2020 Presidential Election.
It was the first of nearly a dozen “Protect the Results” rallies scheduled across Vermont this week. Events are also planned in Bennington, Brattleboro, Bristol, Lyndonville, Medford, Middlebury, Montpelier, Rutland and the Upper Valley.
Over 20 Vermont organizations worked to prepare the rallies ahead of Tuesday’s election, ultimately deciding to gather when President Trump cast doubt on outstanding legal ballots early Wednesday morning.
“He’s been sowing disinformation, and the dangerous situation is that his supporters will believe that,” said Laurie Essig. “That creates a very volitile situation…Possilby violent, and thats what coups look like”
Essig is a Middlebury professor and one of the event’s key organizers.
Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke earlier Wednesday, calling for patience in awaiting the final results of the election. All day Wednesday, the focus was on a handful of states that will ultimately decide the race: Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and North Carolina.
Amid that nationwide uncertainty, rally-goers felt hope in sending a collective message at such a pivotal moment.
“I don’t believe in the two-party system, its in this, it is in us coming out here day in and day out,” said Jadah Bearden, an organizer and student activist. “This is what democracy looks like, this is what the people look like. I was watching the polls because of anxiety, but this is what gives me hope.”
Past nightfall Wednesday, the crowd continued to rally at City Hall. Speakers continued to emphasize the significance of counting all the votes, and a man who identified himself as a union member said any attempt to manipulate the election must be met with a strike.
“We are going to have to protest, and we are going to have to strike,” he said. “I’m proud that the Vermont AFL-CIO has called for a general strike in the event of a theft of this election.”
Late last month, the Vermont AFL-CIO announced that if the losing candidate refuses to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, the union will hold a strike authorization vote on November 21. The Vermont AFL-CIO represents roughly 10,000 workers across the state.