Count Every Vote rally demands all ballots be counted this election

Members of the Corvallis community gather for the Count Every Vote rally on Nov. 4 at the Benton County Courthouse. As the election continues, protestors express their concerns.

Kelsy Valentine, News Contributor

Due to President Donald Trump prematurely attempting to claim victory in the 2020 election, Corvallis community members stood in solidarity with voters at a rally Wednesday afternoon.

The Count Every Vote rally was held in front of the Benton County Courthouse on Fourth Street in downtown Corvallis, Ore. at 4 p.m. on Nov. 4, the day after the 2020 presidential election. The rally, which ran for about an hour and a half, had over 100 participants at its peak.

The rally was organized by several groups, including Our Revolution – Corvallis Allies, Veteran’s for Peace Linus Pauling Chapter, Benton County Democrats, The Sunrise Movement Corvallis, Rural Organizing Project and Industrial Workers of the World. 

The Count Every Vote Rally also had events Wednesday afternoon in Albany and Eugene, Ore. 

Nathan Villanueva, a third-year Oregon State University student studying biochemistry and biophysics, was an organizer of the rally and is a part of the Corvallis Sunrise Movement.

Villanueva said his main reason for organizing the rally was to make sure everyone’s voices are heard. 

“I think it’s important that everyone’s vote is counted because that’s the basis of our democracy.” Villanueva said, “Oregon, and specifically Corvallis, wants all voices heard.” 

Charles Maughan, Corvallis Ward 2 city councilor, is also one of the founding members of Our Revolution – Corvallis Allies. Maughan is still serving his first term as city councilor but was recently re-elected to serve for a second term.

“We decided maybe we need to take some action after the election if there’s any talk at all of votes not being counted. And as we’ve seen from Trump’s recent tweets, he’s saying that it’s a fraud—that there are fake ballots—and that they should stop counting the votes,” Maughan said. “So we already planned ahead, saying that we’ll meet in the morning, see how it goes, and decide if we need to be out here today, so here we are today, just asking that every vote get counted.”

Despite the election only being last night, the Count Every Vote Rally has been planned for several weeks. Due to some of the comments that Trump has previously made, the organizers of the rally were already expecting to have to fight for the counting of all votes.

“[Trump] was talking about mail-in ballots being fraudulent, and about how these ballots magically show up and are not from real people, so we already saw it coming and we wanted to be prepared and we’re not asking for anything extreme,” Maughan said. “Every vote matters. It’s important. Everybody should vote and it should be counted, it makes a big difference.” 

Natalie Walter, a second-year public policy and political science student at Linn Benton Community College said they were prepared for this rally because it’s been floating around for the past couple of weeks that Trump was going to stop counting the votes. The rally isn’t something that was thrown together last night; the organizers have been planning it for some time now.

“Since we’re here in Corvallis, and in Oregon, I’m not really worried that they’ll stop counting the votes locally,” Walter said. “But I want us to stand in solidarity and I want this to be an opportunity for people to talk to people in the community and grow their networks and really bring us together.” 

Maughan is also hoping that the rally helped raise awareness and encourage people to ask that their elected officials ensure that every vote is counted. He said he signed a pledge on Count Every Vote Oregon that states every vote will be counted and that county officials will be held responsible to make sure that happens. District 8 Senator Sara Gelser and Corvallis Mayor Biff Traber also signed the pledge, and community leaders are trying to get other elected officials to do the same, Maughan said.

The rally also included several speakers who talked about what was most important to them and called for action from rally participants.

The first speaker addressed the working class about capitalist oppression, saying that “the capitalist class machine oppresses all the working class, though disproportionately depending on skin color or gender.” They spoke about issues such as PPE, safe working conditions, and union membership. The speaker also encouraged participants to pressure renters out of price gouging and contact the city to tell them to take police funding out of utility bills. 

Another speaker, Antonio Gisbert, introduced the Oregon People’s Rebate, which is a ballot measure that they’re trying to get on the 2022 ballot. The measure would raise the minimum taxes of the largest corporations in Oregon from 1/8 of 1% to 3% so that every Oregon citizen, no matter their age, income or status, would get an equal $750 share of that tax money annually. 

A third speaker then spoke about a possibility of shutting down the economy if not every vote is counted and the “election is stolen.” Flyers outlining how the country can be shut down were passed out to attendees. The five steps they suggested included talking to others in the community about shared values in democracy, asking and listening for common shared frustrations, remembering that power lies in withholding labor and money, making plans to support each other with mutual aid and taking action together.  

The rally ended shortly after the speeches were over, but community members are still dedicated to fighting for everyone’s voice to be heard in this election.

“It’s our right to be able to protest. We shouldn’t let ourselves be silenced, or stay home and be silent and accept things and be complacent,” Walter said. “We really need to speak up and use our voices and be out on the streets.”

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