Officials have been saying that the crowd gathered outside election centers are deterring workers from doing their jobs.
The election in the US is one of kind never seen before in any democratic nation. As the counting of ballots continues in various states, there is some unrest as groups of people have begun protesting outside certain ballot counting centers. The presidential candidate Joe Biden and the current president Donald Trump are competing to secure a position as the 46th president in 2020.
In Arizona, the secretary of state criticized protesters for grouping outside election offices in the state’s largest county, Maricopa. She said that the armed demonstrators are slowing down the counting they have been asking for. Politico reported that the Arizona official Katie Hobbs said that the election workers in Maricopa County haven't been harmed by the protesters. The workers had been afraid for their life after dozens of armed protesters gathered. Hobbs said them being "there actually is causing delay and disruption and preventing employees from doing their jobs," she noted.
The protesters gathered there seemed to be believers in a conspiracy theory known as "SharpieGate," which asserts that some voters in the county had been given Sharpie pens to mark their ballots, which were in turn unable to be scanned and counted. The conspiracy theory is baseless as reports from the centers show this is not the case.
Hearing word of a peaceful protest and prayer gathering outside the Maricopa County Elections Office (510 S 3rd Ave). Have fun and stay safe out there! pic.twitter.com/nViNgNB1XS— Arizona Republican Party (@AZGOP) November 5, 2020
Arizona isn't the only state where protesters have gathered outside election offices. In Nevada, too, protesters have collected outside after claims that there has been election fraud was made. "I can tell you that my wife and my mother are very concerned for me," said Joe Gloria, the registrar in Clark County, Nevada, to the Star Tribune. He added that he and others would not be stopped from "doing what our duty is and counting ballots."
In places like Detroit and Philadelphia, where Biden seems to be gaining ground, protesters are voicing their displeasure. While protests have not been large in size or violent, officials are concerned about the false accusations being leveled against them constantly.
Chaplain in Detroit on the “stop the count” protests:— The Recount (@therecount) November 4, 2020
“We’re not deterred … The Black vote in Detroit is higher than it’s ever been and we will determine the outcome — because we’ve gone from picking cotton to picking presidents.” #Election2020 pic.twitter.com/J4CLPf21yL
In Arizona, one unidentified protester used a bullhorn to say, "We are not trying to break in. We'd just like to watch you count the ballots." The crowds gathered there believed that officials were favoring Biden and booed them. They also blocked the exit. Eventually, police in riot gear had to walk the employees to their cars. "They literally are trying to steal this from us," Nicole Galinda, a protester, told CBS News.
Hobbs has been speaking to the media trying to calm the crowd. "They're protesting to count the votes and that is exactly what Maricopa County election officials are doing," she said on CBS This Morning.
Trump supporters protest outside Arizona election center as mail-in votes tallied https://t.co/8Aq3lkkZPE pic.twitter.com/WTno2OdH52— New York Post (@nypost) November 5, 2020
Many of the bipartisan election workers, who have minimum wage jobs, have been counting the votes as fast as possible. Meanwhile, the president's campaign made some legal challenges in other important states, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. In Wisconsin, he called for a recount. Hobbs said Arizona is also "prepared" for a legal challenge from the campaign.
"Quite honestly there's no legal ground for us to stop counting ballots," Hobbs said on CBS This Morning. "We don't have a postmark deadline in Arizona. Our ballots have to be received by election day. Those are the votes we're counting," she added.
Pro-Trump protests: Arizona vs. Michigan: pic.twitter.com/ctyIop97gf— The Recount (@therecount) November 5, 2020
New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Portland faced post-election protests and several arrests were made. In Michigan, Attorney General Dana Nessel tweeted a plea to "stop making harassing & threatening calls" to her staff, as per the Star Tribune. "Asking them to shove sharpies in uncomfortable places is never appropriate & is a sad commentary on the state of our nation," wrote Nessel, a Democrat, referring to SharpieGate.
Meanwhile, Hobbs assured people that even if a ballot was filled with a Sharpie it will be counted. Problems began when folks spread the conspiracy and Fox News declared that Arizona was won by Biden. The votes are still being counted, and nothing can be confirmed until the due process of the election is complete.