Mobs of Trump supporters try to interfere with ballot-counting across the country


Trump's supporters are amplifying his calls to throw the election into disarray, even as all signs point to a Biden victory.  

After weeks spent sowing disinformation about the election, Donald Trump took the extraordinary step of claiming victory in crucial swing states before all the votes were counted on Wednesday, a message that only served to further rile up his base.

"We have claimed, for Electoral Vote purposes, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (which won’t allow legal observers) the State of Georgia, and the State of North Carolina, each one of which has a BIG Trump lead. Additionally, we hereby claim the State of Michigan if, in fact,..." Trump tweeted Wednesday evening.

Mobs of Trump supporters have since been swarming ballot-counting facilities in critical swing states across the country in an effort to interfere, egged on by Trump and his allies, who have falsely claimed there is an effort to steal the election.

In Nevada, outside of the Clark County election center, the registrar of voters was interrupted by a rabid Trump supporter dawning a shirt emblazoned with "BBQ Beer Freedom" and screaming about the media "covering up" a stolen election.

At least one high profile episode of election site arrest took place on Tuesday in North Carolina, when an armed Trump supporter was taken into custody for failing to leave a polling place.

"Stop the count" protesters gathered outside of a ballot-counting facility in Detroit, Michigan, responding to Trump's call to end the count. The group attempted to force their way into the room where ballots were being counted while chanting for election workers to stop reviewing ballots, even after they were barred by police.

The logic of the protesters is hard to follow. Stopping the count in Michigan now would ensure Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins the state, as he currently leads Trump there by more than 130,000 votes.

The Associated Press has already called the race for Democratic nominee Joe Biden, meaning they believe Biden has an insurmountable lead and thus picked up the state's 16 Electoral College votes.

But Trump protesters are also demanding ballots be counted in places like Arizona, where Trump is currently losing to Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Ballots are still being counted in the state, and Biden's lead has narrowed, but the Associated Press has also called that race, meaning they believe Biden's lead is large enough that Trump could not overcome it.

That hasn't stopped Trump supporters from taking to the internet in an attempt to mimic Trump's disinformation campaign.

A viral video shot in bellwether Maricopa County showed Trump supporters claiming that poll workers tried to force the use of sharpies instead of ballpoint pens to invalidate Trump ballots.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs quickly set the record straight, tweeting, "IMPORTANT: If you voted a regular ballot in-person, your ballot will be counted, no matter what kind of pen you used (even a Sharpie)!"

Kim Powell, a local television reporter in Arizona who was covering the mob of armed protesters, said she had to leave the protest after being threatened by one of the demonstrators.

"My photographer and I have left after one protester threatened us and said he would find where we live. We are filing a police report," Powell tweeted.

Trump's campaign is running a multi-tiered strategy to try to swing the race his way, including recounts, lawsuits, and incitement of protests like the ones taking place in Arizona and Michigan.

But, despite Trump's best efforts to foment an army of supporters set on intimidating voters and throwing a wrench into the electoral process, early returns point to a decisive Biden victory.

And experts say Trump and his supporters are unlikely to prevail.

Speaking a news briefing, attorney Bob Bauer, a Biden campaign senior adviser, said that Trump's efforts to save what now appears to be a doomed campaign would be futile.

"If at some point [Trump] arrives before the Supreme Court with a novel proposition that ballots that were lawfully cast by eligible voters but not yet counted by the time Donald Trump wanted them counted, that somehow they don't count anymore, he will be in for one of the most embarrassing defeats the president ever suffered before the highest court of the land." Bauer said.

And legal experts say that Trump lawsuits in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania to stop votes from being counted are not grounded in any legal basis and are likely to fail.

For voters, the challenge will now be riding out the post-election chaos that Trump's last-ditch effort has caused, which was expected by many.

On Wednesday a video of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaking on Jimmy Fallon's "The Tonight Show" began to recirculate, showing the senator reminding voters of Trump's expected post-election behavior, and encouraging them to remember that the election is decided when all the votes are counted, not when Trump says it is.

"It could well be [...] that at 10 o'clock on election night, Trump is winning in Michigan, he's winning in Pennsylvania, he's winning in Wisconsin and he gets on the television and he says: 'Thank you, Americans, for re-electing me. It's all over. Have a good day,'" Sanders said.

"But then the next day, and the day following, all of those mail-in ballots start getting counted and it turns out that Biden has won those states. At which point Trump says: 'See? I told you the whole thing was fraudulent. I told you those mail-in ballots were crooked. And, you know, we're not going to leave office.'"

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.