In the wake of an uncertain election, Vermonters took a stand for democracy this week as nearly 100 people gathered at the State House lawn for a Protect the Results rally and vigil.
Led by the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, Rights and Democracy, and other local organizations, the Montpelier rally Wednesday, Nov. 4, was one of six ongoing Protect the Results rallies in Vermont and more than 100 throughout the country.
Volunteers passed around candles and signs that read “Count Every Vote” as leaders from VPIRG, Rights and Democracy, and Vermont Interfaith Action stood on the State House steps and stated their demands for a lawful election.
Reverend Joan Javier-Duval of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier made a statement of solidarity: “We come together today as people of different ages, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, gender identities, religious or non-religious backgrounds, and political stripes. We come together as Vermonters […] to keep peaceful watch, with a commitment to the integrity of free and fair elections, with a belief in the dignity of the voter, and with a resolve to keep showing up until every vote is counted and the will of the people is heard.”
The Protect the Results coalition planned mass rallies as a response to President Donald Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. Their mission became even more imperative when Trump falsely claimed victory on election night. Paired with the Trump campaign filing lawsuits in three states, and his claim that he “will be going to the Supreme Court” to stop ballot counting, the coalition finds it necessary to hold the administration accountable for unlawful voter suppression.
“The basis of American democracy is that voters choose their leaders,” said VPIRG’s Ben Edgerly Walsh during his speech. “The leaders do not choose their voters. We must ensure that voting continues unabated.”
Protect the Results reserved the State House lawn for Saturday, Nov. 7, but those plans are on hold pending the outcome of the presidential election. The coalition may launch a nationwide mobilization in the coming days or weeks, depending on the election results and the Trump administration’s attempts to compromise votes.
Tom Proctor, Regional Organizer for Rights and Democracy, expects a much higher turnout on Saturday. “At around the time we were looking to mobilize, it still very much looked like [the election] was going to be secured to Biden. But that has changed a lot in the last couple of hours. We’ve all heard the increasingly escalating rhetoric from the White House and Donald Trump, and there is a lot of indication that he is going to steal this election one way or another.”