Christine Neumann-Ortiz at Count Every Vote event
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of the Milwaukee-based immigrant and worker advocacy group Voces de la Frontera, speaks at a Nov. 4 event calling for every legally cast vote to be counted around the country. The event was co-hosted by Leaders Igniting Transformation and Indivisible Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathon Sadowski)

“There is no mystery. There is no scandal.”

Less than 12 hours after President Donald Trump said he wants millions of legally cast ballots to be discarded because they were not being counted quickly enough, several left-leaning groups gathered in Milwaukee to support the American ideal that every vote should be counted.

Trump’s escalating rhetoric against the completely legal and properly functioning voting process continued into Wednesday afternoon as he requested a recount of Wisconsin. He lost by fewer than 21,000 votes, and sued Pennsylvania and Michigan to halt voting as absentee ballot counts trickled in and tipped the scales in those states toward Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“Donald Trump cannot change that process just because it doesn’t suit him,” said Pam Fendt, president of the Milwaukee Area Labor Council. “Because he is losing to Joe Biden, he has stopped running against Joe and is now currently running against democracy. And no one should be okay with that.”

In many states, including Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, Election Day in-person vote totals were reported first while poll workers scrambled to process a crush of absentee ballots spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. 

In all three states, Republican-controlled legislatures refused to convene before the election to pass measures that would have allowed election officials to count absentee ballots and avoided delayed results.

Officials in Wisconsin have stressed for weeks that there would be a delay in results because absentee ballots take much longer to tabulate than in-person votes.

“Every vote has mattered and will matter, and we’re gonna make sure it matters,” said Maya Neal, political manager for Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT), a youth activist group from Milwaukee. LIT co-hosted the event with Indivisible Wisconsin.

Trump succeeded in sowing chaos and confusion about the election Wednesday as he tried to stop vote-counting based on no legal or constitutional basis whatsoever. Multiple tweets he sent were flagged for containing misleading or false information, and his campaign planned in-person events in Philadelphia that will likely further cast baseless doubts on the legitimate election.

And yet Trump wanted it both ways, as he wants every vote in Wisconsin counted—again. Soon after results were finalized, showing Biden ahead, the campaign issued a call for a recount. It is a political Hail Mary unlikely to pan out; even former Gov. Scott Walker, now chairman of Trump’s re-election campaign, cast doubt on the possibility of a recount making any substantial change in the election results.

“Well, it sounds like the president agrees with what we are talking about today,” said State Rep. David Bowen (D-Milwaukee). “We believe that every vote should be counted, and if that’s the same notion he has, we will make sure that every vote is counted and give patience to our elected officials.”

“There is no mystery. There is no scandal,” Fendt said.