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Protests over US election results
Via Twitter @NicoleValdesTV

‘Stop the count’: Trump supporters try to break into vote-counting centres

A confused MAGA army – some of whom are armed – wants counting to continue where Trump is losing, but stop where he’s ahead

It’s been two days since the 2020 US presidential election (November 3), and we still don’t know the result. At the time of writing – and based on the Associated Press’ declaration that Joe Biden has won Arizona – the Democratic nominee is leading the race with 264 electoral votes to Donald Trump’s 214.

With Trump currently ahead in Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Alaska, it all comes down to Nevada – where Biden is leading by a tight margin of just 7,600 votes. If Biden wins Nevada, he will get the six electoral votes he needs to reach 270, and will win the election. But, as all media outlets are asserting, the race is still too close to call.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning (November 4), Trump shocked the world by falsely claiming victory, despite millions of votes yet to be counted. “This is a fraud on the American public,” he told a crowd of supporters at the White House. “This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.”

As predicted by former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, Trump blamed the rise in mail-in ballots (favoured by many this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic) as the reason he wasn’t re-elected by a landslide, and called for “all voting to stop”. The incumbent president baselessly claims that postal voting – which typically favours the Democrats – increases the likelihood of fraud.

Unsurprisingly, this conspiracy theory has quickly (and blindly) been believed by his supporters, who are now attempting to break into vote-counting centres to – confusingly – get poll workers to both stop and complete the count.

In Detroit, Michigan – a previously-red state won by Biden last night – protesters turned up to a ballot-counting centre to argue with the security and chant “stop the count”. One video on social media shows a crowd of white people attempting to get through the doors, seemingly to physically stop poll workers from counting – one woman asks why someone inside isn’t wearing their mask.

Over in Phoenix, Arizona – another previously-red state said to have been won by Biden – Trump supporters are demanding that poll workers complete the count, after news broke that newly-counted ballots are helping Trump claw back at Biden’s narrow lead. Protesters carrying American flags and wearing red MAGA caps were chanting “stop the steal” and “four more years”. 

At one point, protesters managed to get inside the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office – a video shared on Twitter showed them arguing with those inside. “Staff at the @MaricopaCounty elections department will continue our job, which is to administer elections in the second largest voting jurisdiction in the county,” officials later said on Twitter. “We will release results again tonight as planned.” Photos online show over 200 Trump supporters – some of whom were armed with semi-automatic rifles – surrounding the building.

The confusion surrounding Arizona has stemmed from the fact that certain news outlets, including the Associated Press and Fox News, have declared Biden to have won the state, while others, including BBC News, haven’t yet made a projection, leading Trump supporters to remain hopeful it will remain red. There’s currently 70,000 votes between them.

It’s not just Trump supporters out protesting, though. Those in favour of Biden (and democracy) have taken to the streets in cities in New York, Oregon, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota – all Democratic states – to demonstrate against the president’s aggressive effort to challenge the vote count. A riot was declared in Portland, Oregon after protesters were reportedly seen smashing windows.

Americans have voted in record numbers this year, with voter participation on track to be its highest in over a century. Biden has broken former president Barack Obama’s record, winning more votes than any other president in US history.

This has riled up Trump, who, in his election night speech, asserted that he would be going to the Supreme Court over the results, which he asserts have been tampered with. The president has been continuing this narrative on Twitter – where his tweets keep getting marked as misleading – falsely claiming ballots are being “secretly dumped”. 

A terrifying email sent by the Trump campaign to its supporters, which appears to encourage protests, has also emerged on Twitter. “Just like I predicted from the start, mail-in ballots are leading to CHAOS like you’ve never seen,” it reads. “The Radical Left is going to do whatever it takes to try and rip a TRUMP-PENCE VICTORY away from you, and that’s why I’m coming to you now. I need YOUR HELP to ensure we have the resources to protect the results. We can’t allow the left-wing MOB to undermine our election. I’m asking my fiercest and most loyal defenders, like YOU, to FIGHT BACK!”

You can find live coverage of the 2020 US presidential election on The Guardian here.