Trump supporters consider election fraud after months of Trump rhetoric demonizing mail-in ballots.
Rabat – Supporters of US President Donald Trump have gathered outside voting centers in Arizona and Michigan to demand an end to vote counting. The Associated Press (AP) has now called both states for Democratic candidate Joe Biden while Trump voters allege election fraud.
President Trump himself has cast doubts on mail-in ballots for months, culminating in a tense stand-off as the leading electoral reporter has now proclaimed Biden the victor in the two important states.
In Arizona, Trump supporters reacted with anger as AP and Fox News called the state for Biden in the early hours of Wednesday morning and late on election night itself, respectively. In Michigan, Trump saw his large lead turn into a narrow loss, declared by both outlets, despite Republican suspicions of electoral fraud.
Protests at voting centers
Although Fox News and the Associated Press called Arizona for Biden, roughly 300 Trump supporters chanted “stop the steal” as they converged on Wednesday evening on an election center in the state’s capital, Phoenix.
Trump loyalists, many carrying firearms, gathered in the parking lot outside the center. Several of the protesters entered the center to confront staff inside, according to local outlet ABC15.
In Detroit, Michigan, Trump supporters chanted “stop the count” after the state’s voting totals resulted in a Biden victory, according to both AP and Fox News. Republican congressman Paul Gosar joined the protesters. The politician told the angry crowd, “We’re not going to let this election be stolen, period.”
Further evidence of the growing anger among Trump supporters over shifting election results emerged in Nevada, a state where the Trump campaign is suing to dispute results. The Trump team stated that “we believe dead people voted in Nevada” in a November 5 press conference, while AP and Fox had yet to call the state’s race.
As the Nevada Registrar of Voters in Clark County hosted a press conference about the election on November 4, a Trump supporter suddenly took the stage. Wearing a shirt that said “BBQ, beer, freedom,” the man accused the “Biden crime family” of stealing the election, and the media of covering it up.
Discredited mail-in ballots
After an election night marred by sensationalist media coverage and a premature declaration of victory by the incumbent, the situation is tense in the US. Voting totals largely from in-person ballots cast on election day initially showed a Trump lead, which has gradually waned as many states continue to count mail-in ballots. Biden now has a strong lead and seems set to win the election.
As votes have come in, Trump supporters have perceived the shifting numbers as evidence of voting fraud. Donald Trump has for months discredited and undermined the legitimacy of voting by mail. While the practice of voting by mail is common in much of the US, this year’s COVID-19 crisis meant many more Democrats chose to vote remotely.
Trump voters in contrast generally display less fear of the COVID-19 virus, with many actively discouraging the use of masks and prioritizing economic activity over public health. The disparity in fear of infection meant many Trump voters chose to vote in-person on election day. This led to a “red mirage” showing Trump ahead as votes came in on election night.
With important battleground states like Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Arizona still counting votes, Trump’s early advantage has faded and Biden is likely to win. Trump supporters see this shift in fortune as a sign of voter fraud, with many alleging Democrats are padding the vote in order to give Biden an edge.
It is likely that former Vice President Biden will claim victory in the coming days as his electoral college totals are rapidly approaching the required 270 to win the presidency. For the New York Times, which has not yet officially called Arizona, Biden has 253 electoral votes, with Trump trailing at 214.
Trump tweeted “STOP THE COUNT” on November 5, but as pollster Frank Luntz pointed out, stopping the count at this point would still see Joe Biden win both Arizona and Nevada. Current protests and attempts at intimidating vote counters appear to be less of an ingenious strategy, and more of a guttural reaction of Trump supporters confronting electoral reality.
Republicans are now eyeing legal disputes as a last desperate attempt at winning the election. With Republicans claiming election fraud while trying to limit the vote count, any declaration of victory from the Biden campaign could trigger further unrest.
While incoming results are likely to provide some certainty on who won the election, the reaction from Trump supporters is anything but certain. In the US’ divided political landscape, a smooth and peaceful transition of power still seems elusive.