Exhausted from staying up late Nov. 3 to watch election results without a winner being declared, protesters gathered in Shawsheen Square the following day to demand that every vote be counted.
“I didn’t want to be home worrying,” said Ellen Stanford of Andover, who held a sign displaying the words, “Count Every Vote.”
On Saturday she, along with the rest of the world, ended their day's-long wait for an answer as to who would be the next president of the United States when Joe Biden surpassed the 270 electorate votes he needed to win the seat.
But on Wednesday, when the protest was held, the group had no answers. They solidified their plan for that day's protest about the same time President Donald Trump’s campaign asked for a recount in Wisconsin and mounted lawsuits in Michigan and Pennsylvania in an effort to halt the counting of ballots.
For weeks, the Greater Andover chapter of the nationwide group Indivisible planned and coordinated its protest with about 500 other groups across the country. They were prepared in case the Trump campaign followed through on threats to block the counting of votes, said protest organizer Pam Poindexter of Andover.
“It’s important for every vote to be counted. That’s what Democracy is about,” Poindexter said as she and about 50 other people participated in the event. “It’s not just about the Democrats. It’s a bipartisan issue.”
Joel Blumstein of Andover agreed.
“I have my beliefs, but I do not view this as a partisan issue,” he said. “You have to have everyone vote in a democracy and then you have to count every vote cast. And then we all live with the results.”
John Ramsdell of Lowell said he has held signs before and during elections. But until this protest, he had never held a sign saying, “Count Every Vote.”
“However, this is the first time (election results) have been threatened to this extent,” he said.
Based on signups online, organizers of the protest originally expected about 200 people to show up, said Molly Beams, president of the local chapter of Indivisible.
“The turnout was not what we expected, but it’s a weekday and we planned it in the middle of a work day so we could be here when it was light out,” Beams said. “Also, the election has been a tiring process for the whole country. I got lots of messages saying, ‘I’m with you in spirit.’”
The Andover Police Department was notified about the protest and officers blocked off one northbound and one southbound lane of Route 28 to create space for protesters, said department spokesperson Lt. Edward Guy.
“We wanted to be able to give people room to be safe demonstrating and for it to be safe for traffic,” he said.
The protest ended around 5 p.m. with no incidents besides traffic congestion, Guy said.
“We want to give people every opportunity to assemble and voice their opinions,” he said. “And that is democracy at work right now.”