PHOENIX (NewsNation Now) — Crowds of supporters for President Donald Trump gathered outside vote centers in Arizona and Michigan Wednesday, expressing concerns about the counting of ballots.
In Phoenix, roughly 100 protesters converged in front of the Maricopa County Elections Department, chanting “Stop the steal!” and “Count my vote.” Many were without masks and some were armed with rifles and handguns.
The rally comes as The Associated Press has declared Democratic nominee Joe Biden as the winner in Arizona, flipping a state that has a long political history of voting Republican. Trump had won Arizona in 2016.
The AP called the race early Wednesday morning, after an analysis of ballots concluded that there weren’t enough outstanding to allow Trump to catch up.
Gilbert resident Chris Michael, 40, joined protesters outside the Maricopa County Elections Department Wednesday night.
Michael told Reuters that he came to make sure all votes are counted. He said he wants assurances that the counting was done “ethically and legally.”
Republican Rep. Paul Gosar also joined the crowd, declaring: “We’re not going to let this election be stolen. Period.”
Observers from both major political parties were inside the election center as ballots were processed and counted, and the procedure was live-streamed online at all times.
Several sheriff’s deputies blocked the entrance to the building. The vote-counting carried on into the night, Maricopa County Elections Department spokeswoman Megan Gilbertson said.
Two top county officials — one a Democrat, the other a Republican — issued a statement expressing concern about how misinformation had spread about the integrity of the election process.
“Everyone should want all the votes to be counted, whether they were mailed or cast in person,” said the statement signed by Clint Hickman, the GOP chair of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, and Democratic Supervisor Steve Gallardo. “An accurate vote takes time. … This is evidence of democracy, not fraud.”
In Detroit, Trump supporters gathered by a ballot-tallying center shortly before The Associated Press declared that Biden had won Michigan.
Video shot by local media showed angry people gathered outside the TCF Center and inside the lobby, with police officers lined up to keep them from entering the counting area. They chanted “Stop the count!” and “Stop the vote!”
Earlier, Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit in a bid to halt the count, demanding Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state allow in more inspectors. Trump has repeatedly insisted without evidence that there are major problems with the voting and the counting.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, insisted both parties and the public had been given access to the tallying “using a robust system of checks and balances to ensure that all ballots are counted fairly and accurately.”
The Trump campaign also filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Georgia Wednesday, laying the groundwork for contesting the battleground states as he slipped behind Biden.
The new filings, joining existing Republican legal challenges in Pennsylvania and Nevada, demand better access for campaign observers to locations where ballots are being processed and counted, and absentee ballot concerns, the campaign said.
Protests were also reported in other areas of the country, including in Portland, where a riot was declared Wednesday. Many took to the streets in Seattle and New York City overnight, as well.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
Reporting by Mike Householder and Tim Sullivan of the Associated Press, and Mimi Dwyer of Reuters.