Election 2020

13 pics from outside Philly’s vote counting operation, aka the center of the known universe

Elmo drum line, CNN broadcasts, dance parties and dueling rallies.


The Pennsylvania Convention Center hasn’t hosted events since March, thanks to the coronavirus. But on Thursday, the street outside the sprawling facility in Center City Philadelphia was anything but a ghost town.

“Stop the count!” shouted Trump supporters, gathered together behind a fence.

“Count every vote!” countered Biden fans, spreading through the streets.

Thousands of people congregated in turns outside the area where Philly election officials have been tallying mail ballots around in the clock since Tuesday, counting votes in what could tilt in battleground Pennsylvania. Mail ballots have been coming up overwhelmingly in Democrat Joe Biden’s favor, allowing him to overtake Republican President Donald Trump’s count and gain the lead in the commonwealth.

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

Supporters on both sides filled the street throughout the day Thursday and Friday.

Google Master Photographer Mark Henninger captured some photos on the scene, which he described as a strange festival “kind of like the scene in ‘Contact’ before Jodie Foster goes to meet the aliens.”

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

Outside the Convention Center, the crowds stretched for blocks on an unseasonably warm November day.

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

While TV cameras and news crews from around the globe jostled for position outside the door, a CNN correspondent stationed themselves several feet away.

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

A dance party to support the “count the vote” effort erupted on Arch Street, pulling in various Democratic elected officials like City Councilmember Helen Gym and Pa. Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler.

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

Trump campaign lawyers showed up early in the day to demand more access to the counting floor for observers.

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

Also sighted: a drum circle rocking out on Arch Street; bystanders distributing PPE and hand sanitizer.

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

Want some more? Explore other Election 2020 stories.

Thanks for reading another Billy Penn story

Find everything you need to know about Philly, every day — in clear, direct language, like a good friend might say.

No clickbait, no cliffhangers: the Billy Penn morning newsletter.

Thanks for supporting Billy Penn!

Test your local knowledge — join us for the next Philly Quizzo virtual event, or take the quiz online.

Lock in your support

Reader support powers our local pandemic reporting. A monthly membership helps lock it in.

Can we count on you as a Billy Penn sustainer?