Demonstrators gather downtown to protect the vote

About a hundred Austinites march from Woolridge Square to the Texas Capitol to demand that every vote cast be counted

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Kate Boyle

As part of a demonstration that began at Woolridge Square and continued to the Texas Capitol, a hundred protestors gathered to insist that every ballot be counted in the 2020 election after the president argued that elections officials should stop counting ballots after Election Day.

By Kate Boyle, McCallum High School

“This is what democracy looks like!” This was just one of the chants that rang out on the streets of downtown Austin on Wednesday, following the election. The demonstration of about 100 people was organized by Austin Justice Coalition to protect the votes still being counted.

With increased mail-in voting because of the global pandemic not all of the votes have been counted. Earlier Wednesday President Donald Trump’s campaign said that they had filed suits to halt counting ballots in Michigan and Pennsylvania. The people who assembled at Woolridge Square contend that stopping the vote count could distort the election results and silence people’s voices.

Protestor Mike Boyle said “If Trump had stood before the nation and said he would accept the outcome of the election, I would not have seen the need to demonstrate. If Trump does not win the election and refuses to accept the results, it is up to each of us to ensure a peaceful transition of power.” Photo by Kate Boyle.

“It’s really important to make sure that the process is completed and I’m very concerned that the republicans are going to close off the process,” Andrea, a demonstrator, said. “We’re protecting our communities. It’s very concerning what can happen if the election is stopped now.”

The demonstration started in Woolridge Square. People went from Wooldridge Square to the capitol holding up signs and shouting for the votes to continue being counted.

Mike Boyle was amongst the demonstrators. He was surprised to see so few people out but was impressed with the level of organization.

“We saw a large number of APD, DPS and National Guard members during our march,” Boyle said, “After recent tensions with law enforcement in our city, I was heartened to see mutual respect extended during the demonstration. Officers were very responsive and helpful in assisting our group along the march route. Despite the signs and shouted slogans, the overall mood was relaxed and low-key. Perhaps with so much unknown right now as vote-counting continues, we are all waiting to see what happens.”

Boyle was marching for others who are less privileged than him.

For many of the protestors, protecting every single vote cast was part of a larger mission to protect the rights of all Americans equally. Photo by Kate Boyle.

“As a white middle-class male Christian, I am in a position of power and privilege, so I think I have a responsibility to ensure everyone is heard by making sure everyone’s vote is counted,” he said. “President Trump has been trying to sow doubt about the election process since before he was elected in 2016. He can’t bully or threaten his way to his preferred outcome. If Trump had stood before the nation and said he would accept the outcome of the election, I would not have seen the need to demonstrate. If Trump does not win the election and refuses to accept the results, it is up to each of us to ensure a peaceful transition of power. Democracy and freedom are rarely stolen overnight. It happens a little bit at a time. If I don’t stand up today, what rights might be taken from me tomorrow, or taken from my children, or from future generations.”

Rachel was holding a banner that read “protect the results.” She and her friends are from a group called Undoing White Supremacy Austin.

“We’re part of a group called Undoing White Supremacy Austin,” Rachel said. “We’re out here also in that capacity today. We’re very aware there are people that this is a harder moment to be out in and that it may be dangerous to be on the streets or there are lots of reasons why, if you’re not white, you’re in danger right now. So even though we’re aware that there may be danger being on the streets. We’re also aware that we have that burden the least right now in our society so we want to be out here and show up and speak to out.”

Gudy Bradsbird and Cindy Milan were amongst other demonstrators and like the rest of the group they wanted the votes counted. Bradsbird even had a sign on her walker reading “Count all the votes.”

“Every vote matters, every person matters,” Bradsbird said. “We’re ready for a change. We’re worried about the future for our kids, our grandkids, and our great-grandkids. We’ve got a really small window of time to make the changes we need to make so they can have a better future.”

Bradsbird and Milan were singing a song while they waited for the demonstration to start.

“It’s called ‘Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,’” Milan said, “It’s a song from the civil rights movement and I thought it fit this time well. I was singing it also last night during the election.”

According to the Associated Press, Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia have yet to be called for Trump or Biden. Neither Trump nor Biden have the 270 electoral points to win the election. If the counting of votes stops now millions of voices won’t be heard.

This story was originally published on The Shield Online on November 5, 2020.