City Commissioner Al Schmidt said that Philadelphia election officials have received death threats since the vote count started. Schmidt and others received the threats as election workers have been counting hundreds of thousands of mail-in and provisional ballots at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Al Schmidt told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that he and election officials have faced baseless accusations about manipulating the vote. The threats include “calls to our offices reminding us that ‘This is what the Second Amendment is for, people like us.’”
“From the inside looking out, it feels all very deranged,” said Schmidt, a Republican. “At the end of the day, we are counting eligible votes cast by voters. The controversy surrounding it is something I don’t understand. It’s people making accusations that we wouldn’t count those votes, or people are adding fraudulent votes, or just coming up with all sorts of crazy stuff.”
President Donald Trump and his campaign have made unsubstantiated claims accusing Philadelphia of counting fraudulent votes. He has made similar accusations of Pennsylvania and other battleground states. Meanwhile he continues to refuse to concede to president-elect Joe Biden.
Protesters who support Trump continued to gather outside Philadelphia´s Convention Center where ballots are being processed and counted by election officials. Their chants claim “Stop the cheat! Joe got beat” as recently as Saturday, even after the state, and presidency, was called for Biden.
Two armed Virginia men were arrested on Friday after they allegedly traveled to the center to “straighten out the vote.”
President´s remarks pushed back
Schmidt, one of three commissioners one tasked with overseeing Philadelphia’s elections, pushed back at the president’s remarks. “In the birthplace of our republic, counting votes is not a bad thing,” Schmidt said. “Counting votes cast on or before Election Day by eligible voters is not corruption. It is not cheating. It is democracy.”
He said that counting votes cast on or before Election Day should not be a questionable thing. “There really should not be a disagreement, regardless of party affiliation, when we’re talking about counting votes cast on or before Election Day by eligible voters. It’s not a very controversial thing, or at least shouldn’t be.”
Al Schmidt said he expected that the remaining provisional ballots would take at least another week to be counted .
He added that the importance of the recount does not lie in the winner or the loser but in the way the citizens assimilate the process.
At the end of the day, Al Schmidt said, “the real damage is not who wins or who gets elected. The real damage is how we all react to this process. So that at the end of the day we all have confidence that all the voices are heard and win or lose these are the people that we the people have elected to represent us.”