Several local organizations in Central Jersey rallied residents to Princeton’s Hinds Plaza to resist any measures to stop the counting of mail-in ballots, as those votes continue to be counted across the country to determine America’s president in the 2020 election.
The Count Every Vote rally on Nov. 4 in Princeton is one of many rallies nationwide that are part of the Count Every Vote campaign. The rally in Princeton is in response to suits by President Donald Trump’s campaign to halt counting in states such as Pennsylvania.
According to the Associated Press, the president’s campaign filed legal challenges in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia on Nov. 4.
“It is about democracy and about counting every vote. It is not about who is going to win or who is going to lose. It is to make sure that every voter has their voice heard because that is a foundation of a democracy,” said Laura Zurfluh, founder of Indivisible Cranbury and one of the organizers for the Count Every Vote rally. “This rally was pre-planned because of some of the statements our current president has made for months. Because of that rhetoric we pre-planned a rally just in case this would happen. Unfortunately, and disappointingly, it did.”
The rally in Hinds Plaza was hosted by Coalition for Peace Action and Indivisible Cranbury, and would be a call to action for not just those in attendance.
“States must make sure that everyone who voted in person or through the mail is tallied and counted. People have risked their lives to ensure everyone has the right to vote, it is a sacred trust,” Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said in a statement. “This nation is not only dealing with a health emergency, but a climate crisis and a society filled with racial injustice. Despite the pandemic and unprecedented times, millions of people have exercised their right to vote. The nation is calling for a change and a fresh start. That is why it is so important that every vote be counted.”
The event would also be in partnership and involve additional organizations which included the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, Princeton Community Democratic Organization, Indivisible Monroe, Indivisible Princeton, RepresentUs and West Windsor Democratic Club.
“It speaks to the importance of this issue and how critical we all believe this is to consider ourselves a functional democracy. I think a lot of us here feel our democracy is at risk today and is something we cannot afford to lose,” Zurfluh said. “Your vote is your voice as people. If your vote is taken, then you’re voiceless and it then becomes an autocracy. One thing I am proud of in our country is how many people voted in this election to make their vote heard.”
Featured speakers included Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, Yeimi Hernandez a Dreamer, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club Jeff Tittel, Princeton University Professor Sean Wilenz, NJ Citizen Action’s Dena Mottola Jaborska, the Rev. Lukata Mjumbe of Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, and the Rev. Robert Moore, executive director of Coalition for Peace Action.
“In America, in a democracy, the voters select the leader and the leader does not select the voters. We are here to say protect the count, protect the results, because the vote is one of our most fundamentals rights as Americans,” Moore said. “If we don’t protect this it will continue to erode.”
Moore added that mail-in and provisional ballots are just as valid and important as the votes conducted on Election Day.
“I do not care what party or who someone is voting for, every single American who votes should have their vote counted. That is what democracy is all about and how we determine who the winner of this election is,” he said. “That is what we are here to insist on. The president is planning on sending his team of lawyers, maybe to go all the way to the Supreme Court, to stop the vote of mail-in voters. That is abhorrent. That is why we are out here today to say stop it before it even starts.”
Chants of “Every Vote Counts, Every Voter Counted” were voiced from those in attendance at the rally during the late afternoon event. With handmade signs raised by attendees urging the importance of counting the vote, calls to action to uphold democracy were issued by featured speakers and organizers.
“This is not partisan at all. This not even political at all. This is about the preservation of our democracy. This is the basic platform of how America functions. It is engrained in the blood of our soil,” said Robt Seda-Schreiber, chief activist for Bayard Rustin Center. “No one can take away our vote no matter what office they hold.”
More than 100 million votes have been cast by Americans in 2020’s general election.
“I truly believe this is the start of a huge wave of not even activism but citizenship. Citizenship, in its really basic and most indelible and important form, is making sure we all speak up and out, so everybody can speak up and out,” Seda-Schreiber added.