WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
4 Nov 2020 | WOLA Statement

To Protect Our Democracy and Ensure a Fair Outcome, Every Vote Must Be Counted

Washington, D.C.—As was widely expected, the U.S. presidential election has yet to be called after an election season with record turnout and record numbers of mailed in ballots. As millions of votes continue to be counted in key states, we are joining with other independent civil society organizations in calling for an accurate, deliberate, and full count of all votes, free of disruption, violence, or political pressure.

As an organization with more than 40 years of experience promoting human rights and democracy in Latin America, we know how important the integrity of the vote is for building and strengthening democratic processes. As in Latin America, efforts in the United States to unduly influence vote counts—whether by aggressive demands to halt the counting of ballots or efforts to invalidate mail-in or early ballots—must be rejected by civil society, political actors, and the public at large. 

Troublingly, President Donald Trump claimed premature victory in remarks at the White House early this morning, along the way attempting to discount the validity of still-uncounted ballots. It is critical for our democracy that political leaders, Republicans, Democrats and independents alike, at all levels, reject this narrative. Politicians do not get to choose the outcome of an election, the people do.

Protecting the integrity of our democracy and electoral process is critical at a time when the U.S. political system is facing threats to the exercise of equitable participation in elections. Decades of progress by Black and Hispanic communities overcoming their exclusion in the electoral process have been challenged in the last few years by systematic campaigns to purge voter rolls and impose voting restrictions. Despite these challenges, these communities turned out in historic numbers to make their voices heard.

In order to protect the fundamental right to vote that every U.S. citizen enjoys, we call on civil servants and election officials at all levels to keep doing what they’re already doing: counting all the votes in an efficient, impartial, and transparent fashion despite rising political pressure. Members of Congress of both political parties, state legislators, and governors must resist any effort to politicize the process of counting people’s votes.

Most importantly, citizens from all walks of life must oppose any effort to undermine the electoral process. We urge everyone to remain respectful of those with whom we disagree; while at the same time remaining vigilant, organized, passionate, and peaceful in standing up for a full and fair counting of the vote.

This is a crucial moment for democracy in the United States that will have repercussions throughout the Western Hemisphere, and around the globe. The will of the people—whether it’s the re-election of President Trump or the election of Joe Biden—must be respected.