Progressive groups rallied in downtown San Antonio Wednesday urging that every vote be counted in the presidential election that continues to fall on razor-thin margins.

Texas Organizing Project leaders put together the demonstration that drew more than 50 people to Main Plaza. They brought banners, a stage, sound equipment, signs, and flyers calling for campaigns to avoid declaring winners while votes remain untallied.

“Election officials are working so hard to both verify the election results and keep themselves safe, all over this country,” Rick Galvan, student leader with campus organizing group Texas Rising, said on-stage. “Because of that, we have to wait a little while longer for results to be verified. And that’s OK.”

The rally came after President Donald Trump falsely claimed victory early Wednesday, and also made unsubstantiated allegations of “major fraud.”

“We will win this, and as far as I’m concerned, we already have won it,” Trump said.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, expressed confidence that a final count will yield a winning 270 Electoral College votes.

“I’m not here to declare we’ve won,” Biden said. “But I am here to report that when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners.”

Sharon Dukes, center, holds a sign calling for all the votes to be counted during the rally. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Election officials in key swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania continue to tally votes that will decide the presidential outcome. In many states, including Texas, election officials in rural, sparsely populated counties have not counted all votes.

A sense of foreboding hangs across the U.S. with a result still unclear in the most consequential presidential election of the 21st century. Firearms sales have broken records, and many fear outbreaks of social unrest are inevitable.

Even in San Antonio, where protests almost never end in violent clashes, many downtown shops and businesses prepared for Election Day by boarding up their windows. On Wednesday, San Antonio police vehicles were parked on blocks all over downtown, with police maintaining a wide perimeter around the rally.

But Wednesday’s event had an entirely peaceful mood, with no hecklers or counter-protesters. Attendees listened to a series of speakers on stage, with most leaving the plaza around nightfall.

Civil rights activist Rebecca Flores
Civil rights activist Rebecca Flores Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Rebecca Flores, a labor activist who led the Texas chapter of the United Farm Workers and became vice president of the national organization, spoke at the event about a long history of efforts to make voting more difficult in Texas. The state had a poll tax until 1966. Its current voter registration laws often disqualify many who should be eligible, she said, citing her experience working as an elections clerk.

“The exclusions, the number of people who couldn’t vote was something else,” Flores said. “And it was all because of the laws. We have got to change that.”

Lereta Gatlin-McDavid, a TOP organizer in San Antonio focused on police and criminal justice reform, said the event is about “being proactive, not reactive” when it comes to protecting the integrity of the democratic process.

“The things that have changed in America in the last four years … show us that we can’t take anything for granted,” Gatlin-McDavid said.

Brendan Gibbons is a former senior reporter at the San Antonio Report. He is an environmental journalist for Oil & Gas Watch.