About 100 people showed up to a rally organized by a conservative Virginia activist on the state Capitol steps Thursday afternoon for President Donald Trump.
The rallygoers, many clad in Make America Great Again hats or waving Trump flags, chanted “stop the steal, four more years” and dueled with some liberal protesters who planned a demonstration for later that afternoon.
The Trump rally was organized by Scott Presler, formerly a paid organizer for the Virginia Republican Party, and a speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year. He called for an audit of the election results.
“If Biden supporters are also out there fighting for truth and justice, then please join us,” Presler said. He claimed he was in Pennsylvania “of my own volition” and planned to continue holding capitol rallies.
Attendees, including Presler repeated false claims of voter fraud in Michigan, stemming from a typo in results from a small county, according to the New York Times. Presler could not cite any examples of voter fraud in Pennsylvania.
“Be assured, if I have to set up my own independent commission, I will be looking through votes to make sure there is no fraudulent, illegal activity,” Presler said.
A social media group linked to the protest, “Stop the Steal,” was banned by Facebook Thursday.
“The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group,” a Facebook spokesperson told the Washington Post.
Trump’s election night edge over Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden in Pennsylvania has steadily eroded as the state counts millions of legally cast mail-in ballots in the days after the election. Shortly before 5 p.m., about 340,375 mail-in ballots remained uncounted, according to the Department of State’s website.
The phenomenon of late counted mail-in ballots changing the course of an election is commonplace. In Arizona, counting mail-in ballots has helped Trump gain on Biden.
A federal judge also dismissed a federal civil rights lawsuit challenging state voting law before the election because of a lack of evidence of voter fraud as well.
Attendees who showed up to Harrisburg told the Capital-Star they saw the event on social media, or advertised in Breitbart News.
“The president has done so many amazing things for our country,” said Laurie, of Pennbrook borough in Dauphin County, who declined to give her last name. “He should be getting those votes. If he didn’t win, he’d step down, but he did get those votes.”
Another attendee, Susan Bowers, of Lancaster County, told the Capital-Star Presler invited her personally.
Democrats, she said, are “obviously corrupt,” and “probably had planned this for four years.”
All attendees agreed Biden could only win Pennsylvania because of voter fraud, a claim Trump has made at rallies in the state.
Also in attendance Thursday were Republican U.S. Reps. Scott Perry, R-10th District,, who represents Harrisburg, as well as his Freedom Caucus colleague U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.