WEDNESDAY, Nov. 4 — A challenge of the votes cast in Michigan to decide the next U.S. president wasn’t overly surprising news to those gathered outside the Capitol earlier tonight.
So much so, that a few advocacy groups — including Action of Greater Lansing and Sunrise Michigan State — had scheduled the rally more than a day in advance, long before polls closed.
The purpose: Let people in Lansing recognize the importance of counting every single vote.
About 100 people turned out for the “Count on Us” rally, which featured several speakers who talked about the importance of protecting votes in yesterday’s election. Others performed songs.
Irregularities such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the large influx of absentee ballots cast across the country for the election brought additional possible challenges to the vote count, even after Biden was declared the projected winner in Michigan by multiple news outlets.
"We were ready for some unusual challenges," explained Troy Distelrath, a cofounder and hub coordinator for the environmental justice group and organizing partner Sunrise Michigan State.
Hours before the rally, President Donald Trump's campaign announced it would file a lawsuit to stop ballots from being counted in Michigan. “We’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Trump announced earlier in the afternoon during a speech to supporters gathered at the White House.
"I wasn't surprised it was being challenged and that swing states and battleground states were always going to be the focus of the election this year," said Lansing resident Simon Marshall-Shah.
Trump won Michigan in 2016 by a slim 10,704 votes against that year's Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Heightened political divisions among Americans were a natural prelude to challenges from Trump’s administration over the election, Marshall-Shah said.
"My fear is the concerns over legitimacy would sway people to not vote in the future," he added. "I think it is also energizing people to show up and have their voices be heard."
David Holtz is a former Marine who served in the Vietnam War and now lives in Williamston. At the rally, he said he views voting and protecting elections as a basic part of being a U.S. citizen.
"Democracy has to be defended and as a citizen, it's my job to protect democracy," Holtz said.