By Calvin Pynn, contributor
With ballots still being counted in several swing states and the race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden still too close to call, a small group took to the streets on Thursday to demand that all votes be counted – including in Harrisonburg.
About a dozen demonstrators stood outside the courthouse with signs calling for every vote to be counted, as numerous mail-in ballots have still not been processed and President Trump calling on elections officials to stop counting ballots. While turnout on Court Square was light on Thursday, members of the local chapter of Hold the Line, a nonpartisan coalition formed earlier this year to promote free and fair elections, have been showing up every day since last week. They don’t plan to stop until every ballot has been counted.
One of them was Harrisonburg resident Barry Hart, who waved a small American flag from the sidewalk on South Main Street, while others carried signs sporting slogans such as “Counting on A Full and Fair Counting” and “In America, Every Vote Counts.” Hart said a fair count is the “American way.”
“A lot of us don’t use that terminology that much, but it is indeed the American way. And we want to make sure that that holds, I think the biggest thing for me is that we stay vigilant in the best sense of that word,” Hart said.
Hold The Line has also been sponsoring post-election demonstrations in other cities across the country.
According to Hart, taking to the streets signals the power that voters have in deciding elections, and that the responsibility doesn’t lie solely with the courts when the outcome is uncertain.
“It’s the fact that the American people have voted and that’s a really key aspect of it. And to sustain that support, that we’re here in a visual way to say we care about the process,” Hart said.
He said that effort must also be accompanied by private conversations with local elected officials as well to ensure a fair and free election. Before heading to Court Square for their vigil last Friday, many from the group gathered outside Congressman Ben Cline’s Harrisonburg office, where they read a declaration to a member of his staff calling on Cline to denounce any attempts to delegitimize the election results.
“I made a pledge to go to the streets if shenanigans happen,” Rich Sider, a Harrisonburg resident protesting at Cline’s office, said last Friday.
Cline, who was elected to a second term this week, has not responded to last Friday’s declaration or released a statement on Trump’s lawsuits attempting to invalidate the election results as of Thursday, and could not be reached by press time. Sider said he had previously contacted Cline to request that he advocate for a full vote count and denounce attempts at voter intimidation, and said the Congressman’s lack of response is one of the reasons he was out last Friday.
“It’s typical, and if you do get a response, it’s a letter touting all the good things he’s doing,” Sider said.
Hold the Line’s Harrisonburg vigils will continue until all votes are counted, and a larger gathering is planned at Court Square on Saturday if ballots are still being processed, according to Hart. However, he anticipates that by then, the count should be close to complete.
“We’ll have some kind of understanding how we citizens here in the United States go forward in our life together, and that’s the whole point of this,” Hart said.
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