Trump Supporters Protest At Key Arizona Vote Counting Center As Biden’s Lead Erodes


Topline

A group of pro-Trump demonstrators gathered in front of the Maricopa County Elections Department on Wednesday night and Thursday morning as the election workers counted a trove of outstanding ballots that will determine the results of the presidential race in Arizona.

Key Facts

Arizona has been gradually reporting votes since election night, cutting down Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s lead from 9 points when the race was called by Fox News (and later by AP) to just 2.8 points as of early Thursday morning, with the Trump campaign insisting it can still pull off a come-from behind victory in the critical state.

A large group of demonstrators, some carrying Trump flags and others armed with rifles, gathered outside the building where the votes are being counted in Arizona’s largest county to chant pro-Trump slogans, as well as “let us in” and “count the vote,” according to CNN and local news channel AZFamily.

Reporters were ejected from the building for safety reasons Thursday morning, according to CNN and NBC, as election workers continued to count ballots, protected by local police armed with riot gear, though the protest has not turned violent.

Furious at Fox News for calling the race for Biden, protesters turned on the normally Trump-friendly outlet and chanted “Fox News sucks!” 

Demonstrators promoted Sharpiegate, according to the local CBS affiliate, a debunked conspiracy theory spread online by right-wing activists claiming that officials were giving Trump supporters Sharpies to to fill out their ballots, which the conspiracy theorists asserted would invalidate their votes. 

Key Background

Similar protests sprung up in battleground states on Wednesday, including one in Detroit where, unlike in Arizona, demonstrators chanted “stop the count” as mail-in ballots there cut into President Trump’s lead and eventually handed the state to Biden. The protests have been stoked by Trump, who has repeatedly made false claims about mail-in ballots and sued to stop them from being counted in states where they skew heavily Democratic.

Crucial Quote

“Staff at the Maricopa County Elections Department will continue our job, which is to administer elections in the second largest voting jurisdiction in the country. We will release results again tonight as planned. We thank the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for doing their job, so we can do ours,” Megan Gilbertson, a Maricopa County Elections Department spokeswoman, told Forbes in a statement. 

Big Number

550,000. That’s how many ballots NBC reports are still outstanding in Arizona, where Biden leads by just under 80,000 votes, according to the New York Times. Local Democrats are hopeful that, even though recent ballot dumps broke for Trump, the remaining ballots will be more favorable for Biden, with Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) tweeting “My district hasn’t reported yet. Looks likes Stanton barely did also. Lots of Dem ballots left.”





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SCOTUS Transgender Ruling Erodes Religious Freedoms



Rev. Franklin Graham said Monday in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling that makes sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes, the Court overstepped its authority by “making law.”

“Today the U.S. Supreme Court enacted a new law that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the 1964 Civil Rights Act as ‘protected classes,’” the Christian leader posted to Facebook with a link to a Rolling Stone column titled, “Supreme Court’s Landmark LGBTQ Employment Decision Is Even Bigger Than Marriage Equality.”

“As Justice Alito has pointed out, the majority went too far—he called it a ‘brazen abuse of our authority,’” he continued. “The Supreme Court exists to interpret the law, not to make new laws—making laws is the job of our Representatives in Congress, elected by the people.”

Many religious liberty proponents have condemned the ruling, stating it disregarded the separation of powers and also placed religious freedom in grave danger.

Graham agreed, writing:

I believe this decision erodes religious freedoms across this country. People of sincere faith who stand on God’s Word as their foundation for life should never be forced by the government to compromise their religious beliefs. Christian organizations should never be forced to hire people who do not align with their biblical beliefs and should not be prevented from terminating a person whose lifestyle and beliefs undermine the ministry’s purpose and goals.

Graham said even if one’s religious beliefs are in the minority, the Constitution protects those rights.

“These are the freedoms our nation was founded on,” he asserted.

“The Supreme Court does not override and will never overturn the Word of God,” the faith leader asserted. “One day we will all have to stand before God, the Righteous Judge, whose decisions are not based on politics or the whims of culture. His laws are true and are the same yesterday, today, and forever.”



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