Washington, DC – However imperfect, American democracy is rooted in the idea that the people choose their leaders – politicians do not pick their voters. Generations of people have fought and died to expand the right to be heard without the fear of coercion or violence.
For the past year, election officials, both dedicated government employees and hardworking volunteers, have been preparing for our nation’s federal, state, and local elections. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and concentrated attempts by President Trump to undermine confidence in the outcome, election officials are counting every vote, verifying the results, and following laws and best practices designed to ensure a fair count.
Politicians can make any outlandish claims, but it’s the people’s will that decides our elected officials. Now, more than ever, we must guarantee the democratic transfer of power that has been a hallmark of American democracy since our founding.
The vast majority of people in this country believe that for democracy to work, we all must be heard. But a powerful few have made voting intentionally hard for people based on race, ethnicity, disability, political views, and where they live. Each of us must continue to demand that every voter can have their say and that every vote is counted.
Throughout the campaign, Vice President Biden has encouraged people to vote early and, where possible, vote by mail in order to protect themselves and their communities from the coronavirus. President Trump has spurred public health officials and discouraged and cast doubts about voting by mail, telling his supporters to turn out on Election Day in person. Most supporters of each candidate did as they were told.
The emerging vote tallies are the natural result of this dichotomy — votes cast yesterday favor Trump, and those cast beforehand favor Biden. In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, early ballots are counted last, which explains why we see vote totals shifting by winning margins to Biden. Meanwhile, votes are slowly being counted in Georgia and Michigan.
Whatever happens in this election, the National Health Law Program will press on to protect and expand health care rights. Today, we are focused on the right to vote. We must wait for every vote to be counted because every vote matters.