(NewsNation Now) — Election officials in several states said Thursday they are worried about the safety of their staffs amid a stream of threats and gatherings of angry protesters outside their doors.
“I can tell you that my wife and my mother are very concerned for me,” said Joe Gloria, the registrar in Clark County, Nevada, which includes Las Vegas. He said his staff was bolstering security and tracking vehicles coming and going from the election offices.
But he added that he and others would not be stopped from “doing what our duty is and counting ballots.”
Groups of Trump supporters gathered at vote tabulation sites in Phoenix, Detroit and Philadelphia, decrying counts that showed Democrat Joe Biden leading or gaining ground.
While the protests have not been violent or very large, local officials were distressed and concerned by the relentless accusations.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel tweeted a plea to “stop making harassing & threatening calls” to her staff.
“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 an unfounded conspiracy theory that Trump supporters were told to fill out ballots with Sharpie markers instead of regular pens so that their votes wouldn’t be counted by the machines.
In Arizona, on-going protest activity prompted county officials to create a “freedom of speech zone” where they put up fencing, allowing poll workers to easily enter and exit without any fear of intimidation. Sheriff’s deputies were also standing by providing protection for poll workers if needed.
On Thursday, about 100 Trump supporters gathered again in front of the Maricopa County election center in Phoenix, some carrying military-style rifles and handguns. Arizona laws allow people to openly carry firearms. The crowd took turns chanting — “Count the votes!” and “Four more years!” — and complaining through a megaphone about the voting process.
They paused to listen as Trump spoke from the White House on Thursday night, repeating many of his unfounded assertions of a rigged vote.
They clapped when the president said, “We’re on track to win Arizona.” The Associated Press has called Arizona for Biden.
In Atlanta, roughly 100 chanting Trump supporters gathered outside State Farm Arena as votes were being counted. Several Atlanta police officers monitored the scene.
Tom Haas, 50, who said he was visiting Atlanta from Chicago on business, said he was convinced Trump had won the election. “There’s obvious voter fraud, and it’s coming out of the larger Democratic-run cities,” he said. “Atlanta is one of them.”
“Our democracy is under attack,” he said, echoing Trump’s language. We’re losing America because we’re losing a fair election for the nation.”
In Detroit, a few dozen Trump supporters gathered outside the city’s convention center Thursday morning as election workers counted absentee ballots inside. The protesters held signs that read, “Stop the steal” and “Stop the cheat.”