Keep counting they did, in Philadelphia and other localities where the final votes were being tabulated in an election that smashed turnout records that had stood for decades. They kept counting in the City of Brotherly Love, even as police there late Thursday arrested two armed men from out of state who apparently were headed to the convention center, where the tally was underway. They kept counting as a firm allied with the Trump campaign attempted to ignite protests there by circulating a text that read, “Radical Liberals & Dems are trying to steal this election from Trump!” They kept counting, even as the president himself did his best to instigate unrest by tossing off invented allegations of vote fraud and corruption.
In Detroit, they kept tabulating ballots despite right-wing protesters who stormed a vote-counting site Wednesday, banging on windows and yelling, “Stop the count!” The protesters had organized through Facebook groups, the New York Times reported. And when election workers responded by covering the site’s windows, to prevent unauthorized interference with the tallying, White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany shared a video of the event, captioned “SHADY,” which has been viewed nearly 8 million times.
In Arizona’s Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, the vote counters went ahead despite being jeered by pro-Trump protesters, stirred up by a rumor that votes for the president would be tossed when marked by Sharpies. In fact, officials made clear, ballots marked with Sharpies were just fine — and the pens had been distributed to some voters because the ink dries quickly.
In defiance of every ploy, stratagem and invented accusation the president and his acolytes could throw at them, vote counters and election officials were undeterred, just as poll workers and voters themselves had been undeterred before them. They worked, literally around the clock, as a matter of duty. “Every time you went by Broad Street, or you went by City Hall, or you went by Delaware and Spring Garden, the lights were on,” said Philadelphia City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, citing venues where the election gears were turning nonstop, “because we had literally hundreds of hard-working individuals in there, making sure that this process works.”
That spirit matched the staggering turnout Tuesday, in which more than 160 million Americans, or two-thirds of eligible voters, may have cast votes either by mail or at the polls — the biggest share in more than a century. They shut out the threats, the rumors, the social media misdirection and the fears of catching the coronavirus.
Hats off to the Americans who cast ballots and to the Americans who counted them, elevating duty — and democracy — above all the noise.