PHOENIX – More than 150 supporters of President Trump, some of them armed, gathered outside the Maricopa County election office on Wednesday and chanted “Count the vote,” as officials did under the protection of sheriff’s deputies.
Early results in Arizona show Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the lead, but Trump supporters believe that could change with the last vote count.
Keely Varvel, chief deputy recorder for Maricopa County, said counting would continue despite the protest. “We still plan to finish our ballot processing work and release more results tonight,” Ms. Varvel said.
Without citing evidence, some Republicans accused election officials of manipulating the results to indicate Mr. Trump was losing in Maricopa County, which is home to about 60% of Arizona’s population.
“The only way Biden can win Arizona is by being cheated,” said Jim Williams, 67, a welder who attended the protest. “I won’t accept a victory from Biden. I don’t want to live under the communist regime.
Many in the crowd were holding Trump flags and many people were waving AR-15 rifles and other firearms. Some also chanted “Fox News sucks,” reflecting their displeasure with the network’s decision on Tuesday to call Arizona for Mr. Biden, a move other media outlets later followed.
The last time a Democratic presidential candidate won Arizona was Bill Clinton in 1996, and Maricopa County has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1948. But demographic changes have transformed Arizona in a state of battlefield.
On Wednesday evening, Mr Biden led Mr Trump to Arizona with less than 80,000 votes, or less than three percentage points, with about 14% of the total votes still outstanding. In votes so far from Maricopa County, Mr. Biden leads by five percentage points.