Activists march, rally in GR for accurate vote count

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Activists held a march and rally downtown Grand Rapids Wednesday afternoon to make sure their voices are heard and that every vote is counted.

Several groups took part in the “Count Every Vote” event including Justice for Black Lives, Michigan United and Common Defense Progressive Veteran Advocacy. Organizers spoke at Calder Plaza at 4:30 p.m. Then marched to Rosa Parks Circle and City Hall.

“We are here to ensure every vote is counted and that our democracy is safe,” a representative for Michigan United said at the start of the event.

The group is billing it as a national week of action and wants to highlight the importance of a complete and accurate vote.

“Regardless of who you voted for, it’s important that you stand up and make sure every vote is counted,” says a representative of Justice For Black Lives.

The group encouraged election staff to keep counting.

Election officials are seeing a record voter turnout this election. The city of Grand Rapids saw about 59,000 absentee ballots and another 35,000 votes cast in person Tuesday. In 2016, about 69,000 people voted in person and about 16,000 absentee votes.

“It’s not a delay, it’s just that’s the process that we do to do elections,” said City Clerk Joel Hondorp on Wednesday. “We’re now in a seven-day World Series where we’re doing same-day registrations, we’re doing absentees in person for no reason. So, it’s great access for the voters, but it is a lot more work for the clerk’s office.”

The vote counted in Grand Rapids concluded Wednesday evening, about 23 hours later.

Leaders called for unity, respecting the vote and patience as election staff continue to count absentee ballots.