US Election 2020: Armed Trump Supporters Force Arizona Counting Centre To Shut Down
A building being used to count votes for the US election was forced to shut down to the media after armed Donald Trump supporters gathered outside.
Votes are still being counted for the presidential race, which sees Joe Biden take on current president Trump, with poll workers in Maricopa County, Arizona among those calculating the results.
Current results being reported by The Associated Press show Biden with 50.7% of the vote in Arizona while Trump follows closely behind with 47.9%.
Voting came to an end on Tuesday, November 3, and last night a number of Trump supporters, many of whom were armed, gathered outside Maricopa County’s ballot-counting facility.
CNN reporter Kyung Lah, who was on the scene, commented:
There are a number of people who have been seen with long guns, with semi-automatic rifles, because this is an open-carry state.
There are a lot of security concerns.
Officials worried for the safety of the media at the scene, as well as about what would happen when those counting the votes had to leave the building to go home. Crowds had gathered in the car park of the building where poll workers had left their vehicles.
Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputies could be seen wearing tactical gear as the crowd continued to grow, and just before midnight local time the Maricopa County Elections Department released a statement to say it would shut down the centre.
The statement read:
Staff at the @maricopacounty Elections Department will continue our job, which is to administer elections in the second largest voting jurisdiction in the county. We will release results again tonight as planned.
Lah said press were told to leave the building shortly after the announcement of the closure. Media workers had to form an exit plan to get past the protesters, though those inside the building stayed to continue counting the votes.
Officials thanked the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for working on the scene and doing their jobs which in turn allowed the election workers to do theirs.
A number of the protesters were seen waving Trump flags and chanting ‘Count the votes’ and ‘Fox News sucks!’. Fox News was among a number of outlets to project Biden as Arizona’s winner on election night.
Arizona carries a prize of 11 electoral votes, which would put Biden over the threshold of 270 to win the presidency. The Associated Press reports that Biden currently has 264 electoral votes, while Trump follows behind with 214.
UPDATE: While the number of Electoral College votes varies in reports by various news outlets this is due to the ongoing counting process, The Associated Press has published an explainer detailing why they called the state for Joe Biden yesterday.
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Maricopa County Elections Department