WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hundreds of people awaited general election results in sight of the house where the next president will live and work. 

In the Black Lives Matter Plaza directly across from the White House, worried Americans watched a small projector as election returns began trickling in Tuesday night. The possibility that final tallies will be announced over the course of the coming days and weeks has led to increased tensions during an election season already complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In Michigan, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said while some results may come on Tuesday, it might take until Friday to get a definitive answer on the winner of the state’s 16 electoral college votes due to the record number of mail-in ballots. Benson previously told CNN that Michigan’s votes will be tallied earlier than anticipated, leading to confusion over whether results will be complete by Tuesday night. 

However, when asked for clarification on Tuesday, Tracy Wimmer, director of media relations for the Secretary of State’s Office, said it is unlikely that all ballots will be counted so soon.

“While there has been an incredible number returned, we know that the thousands of clerks and poll workers processing and tabulating these ballots have been hard at work across the state today,” Wimmer said. “While that may enable certain jurisdictions to complete their counts later this evening or during the early morning hours tomorrow, we still do not believe we will have full unofficial results tonight, as we have been consistently saying for weeks.”

In the city, protestors passed by buildings boarded up as business owners prepared for possible upheaval. Similar scenes have been reported in New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia.

And in Washington, D.C., people say they are there to stand for their rights and peacefully protest the Trump administration with hopes that he won’t be reelected.

Attendees said they were not planning to get violent but were concerned about potential escalation. They reported multiple miniature firework displays going off. The majority of protestors were wearing face masks as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Clare Raccuia, an American University student living in Washington, D.C., said she wanted to come downtown to see what it was like to be there as the news rolled in.

“Me and my friends were all watching the TV, watching the news and we’re so close so we just wanted to come out and see everything and be a part of this,” Raccuia said. 

Raccuia said she was inspired by the number of people in the streets who were there to support one another as they waited for the outcome of the election. 

“I think it’s more just people showing they care and people supporting one another and right now, it’s peaceful, it’s nice, it’s people who care who are out here,” Raccuia said. “Most people who care are out here. And I think it just shows that people want to get involved and people will get involved.”

At George Washington University, another college campus in the Washington, D.C., area, members of the school’s administration told students to prepare for the election as if it was a hurricane or other natural disaster. In an email sent Thursday and Friday, students were advised to stock up on over a week’s worth of food and medications in preparation for possible unrest in the city. 

The government is also preparing for civil unrest, according to The Washington Post. D.C. police have limited leave for officers for the upcoming weekend to ensure the force remains fully staffed. The local government has spent $100,000 on munitions and chemical irritants for riot control.

Asia Bell, a peaceful protestor from the area, said she came out to stand for her rights as a Black woman. She said she wanted to come out to show people she doesn’t stand with the Trump administration.

“I’m out here to stand for my life,” Bell said. “I’m out here to stand for my future kids’ lives. I’m out here to stand for every one of our lives.”

Daily News Reporter Julia Forrest, who reported from Washington, D.C., can be reached at juforres@umich.edu

Daily News Editors Alex Harring and Liat Weinstein, who reported from Ann Arbor, can be reached at harring@umich.edu and weinsl@umich.edu.

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