Hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump are trying to disrupt the election workers who are still counting votes in the main swing states that will decide on the presidential elections.
Like the election campaign itself, the supporters are also demanding that counting continue in those states where the president is currently trailing former vice president Joe Biden and Trump believes he can overcome the deficit.
The president was ahead in Michigan until Wednesday afternoon, but was overtaken by Biden as more absentee ballots were counted during the day. This pattern continues throughout the country and has brought Biden to the brink of victory.
CNN and NBC News now expect Biden to win Michigan. A crowd of Trump supporters flocked to the TCF Center in Detroit on Wednesday afternoon, where the postal votes for Biden had given the Democrat a narrow lead. In scenes reminiscent of Florida in 2000, protesters gathered outside the doors singing, “Stop the count! Stop the count!”
Police and local officials tried to keep calm as tensions rose. Conservative news websites and commentators complained that officials inside had blocked the windows with cardboard during the protests, indicating a lack of transparency.
Similar scenes occurred in Pennsylvania on Wednesday when protesters – including Trump’s attorney and attack dog Rudy Giuliani along with Eric Trump – gathered outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center in downtown Philadelphia to try to stop the vote count in the decisive Keystone State, whose 20 votes could be those that push the eventual winner over the line.
The trump card is still just ahead in the state, but it is expected that at least some of the remaining postal ballots will be strongly in Biden’s favor. It could be that these votes will help Biden win Pennsylvania and the White House. Or they could give the momentum back to Trump.
Giuliani announced a press conference outside the convention center, but cancelled it shortly before the event began. Instead, he and Eric moved to an airport on the outskirts of the city.
Giuliani picked up Trump’s campaign conversations and claimed, without any evidence, that there had been “rampant corruption” in Philadelphia in order to cheat the president out of the election.
“We have no idea whether these are really ballots, whether they are signed, whether they are properly stamped, whether it is not just one and the same person who submitted a hundred thousand ballots, they have all been counted. This is the way they intend to win,” Giuliani said, not providing any evidence to support his claims.
But elsewhere, the Trump supporters protested to demand that every vote be counted. In Arizona – where Biden has a narrow lead over the president – some 150 Trump supporters, some of whom, according to the New York Times, are armed, gathered with chanting before the Maricopa County election campaign: “Count the votes,” as the functionaries inside did.
A video from inside the building showed Maricopa County Sheriff’s Deputies putting on tactical equipment and preparing to possibly approach the protesters outside as the crowd grew.
The election rules allow 134 challengers for each candidate to challenge the result and observe the counting process, but it turned out that more people than allowed had entered the counting centers on Wednesday.
Detroit Free Press counted 570 challengers who walked through the room where the election workers counted the remaining approximately 25,000 or so absentee ballots of Detroit residents. Among them were 227 Republicans, 268 Democrats and 75 impartial challengers.
Meanwhile, the Trump campaign made its own efforts, taking legal action to stop the ongoing count in Michigan and Pennsylvania while demanding the continuation of the Arizona election.
In Michigan, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien issued a statement claiming that the campaign had not been granted “reasonable access” to review the counting process.
The campaign also filed lawsuits to stop the counting of votes in Pennsylvania and Georgia – where the president remains in charge – and called for a recount in Wisconsin, where Biden is said to have narrowly overtaken the president.
The president also announced on Twitter that he would claim victory in Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina and Michigan “for the purpose of voting”.