Honking horns and cheers could be heard Wednesday along Main Street in Cortez as supporters of President Donald Trump voiced concerns about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.
Protesters denounced the use of mail-in ballots and made claims of “glitches” in voting machines and ballot stuffing.
Some carried guns, including a man armed with a handgun and rifle who stood on a pickup truck behind a line of protesters waving flags along West Main Street.
Trump’s most steadfast supporters have continued to fight on even after the former attorney general and Republican state elections officials have said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
The Cortez demonstration came as thousands of demonstrators marched on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Dozens of people forced their way past police as lawmakers inside debated Electoral College votes that confirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Protesters breached security and entered the building, where one person was shot. Biden later called the demonstration an “insurrection,” and Trump asked his “very special supporters” to go home.
In Cortez, Eric Broyles, a protester on Main Street, said he was concerned about the sanctity of the vote and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to not take up cases that alleged election fraud.
“The vote is your one chance to speak up,” Broyles said. “I believe they’ve disenfranchised half a country.”
Rally participants said the investigation into whether the election was done legally has been insufficient.
“We are not accepting conceding this election; the evidence of fraud is overwhelming,” said Sherry Simmons, a leader of the Montezuma County Patriots, as she waved an American flag in front of the Montezuma County administration building. “If the election was fair, we would not be out here doing this, we would be working on other issues.”
Participants claimed illegal ballots were counted in favor of Biden, and that ballot counting machines had computer chips to rig the election against Trump.
“If we don’t have fair elections, we don’t have America. Your voice and my voice would not count, and it becomes a dictatorship,” Simmons said. “The legal challenges are legitimate. If we end up with (Biden) as an illegitimate president, get ready for a wild ride.”
Valid elections secure “freedom, and that is what America is about,” she said. “Freedom to have a voice, freedom to practice religion and to have guns on our side. It is chilling to think this fraudulent election result will be allowed to stand, because then there is no limit.”
A few counterprotesters showed signs supporting Biden.
Rally attendant Allen Maez, president of the Montezuma County Republicans, said a deeper investigation of claims of election fraud was needed.
“We don’t have good information one way or another on issues of fraud because it has not been looked into sufficiently, or even allowed,” he said. “Seems pretty obvious to me that things did not go right everywhere, but until there is a better investigation we won’t really know.”
“We have that right to object. There is a worry that the things did not go right. The electors may not have the right information to cast their vote as they should. It will be interesting to watch those legal challenges play out,” Maez said.
An illegal presidential election would put America on a path toward a socialist, authoritarian or Marxist government, said Teak Comfy, of Cortez.
He said he believes a socialist movement influences school curriculum in the U.S. and in organizing anti-police demonstrations in towns, including Cortez.
“Trump woke up the country, American patriots shall prevail,” he said.