Unfair! Arizona Trumpy Mob Deprived Of Inalienable Right To Demand All Votes Count!
A crowd of angry Donald Trump supporters tried to interrupt vote counting at the Maricopa County Elections Department in Phoenix last night, convinced by rightwing media that something nefarious must be going on with the count. They were particularly upset that Fox News had called the Arizona race for Joe Biden on election night, unlike most other news outlets. Beyond that, the hundred or so protesters were super mad about a completely bullshit conspiracy theory we'll explain in a moment, because that shit's too crazy to get into here in the lede.
The wackaloons were shouty enough that MSNBC reporter Gadi Schwartz and his crew left their camera lights off so they wouldn't be swarmed by angry Trumpies, as reported live last night on the "Rachel Maddow Antifa Burn America To The Ground Also Hurr Hurr She's A Lesbian Hour."
Let's just recap: On the same day, wingnuts in a frenzy about "election fraud" swarmed a vote-counting venue in Michigan to stop the vote, and swarmed a vote-counting venue in Arizona to demand votes be counted.
Then they all presumably went home, got on Facebook, and warned that America is a Republic, not a democracy, because democracy is nothing more than mob rule.
The crowd in Phoenix chanted "FOX NEWS SUCKS" because of the network's early call, which they considered the worst stab in the back since the last time a Fox News poll showed Joe Biden leading in the election. We should note that the Associated Press also called Arizona early, but wingnuts didn't feel personally betrayed by that, so nobody was chanting "AP SUCKS!"
The real source of the protesters' discontent, however, was completely unreal. You see, in Maricopa County, ballots can be filled out in blue pen, black pen, or even with a Sharpie (and no, we are not going to say fine-point felt-tipped pen). Here is an actual explainey tweet, with video, from the county elections department, explaining that you can indeed use the pens:
Yes, there's even a little cartoon character named "Phil the Ballot" to remind you that the ovals need to be filled in. Yet nobody's protesting that.
But in keeping with the time-honored fact that anything new must be witchcraft and/or a George Soros plot to destroy America, a bunch of idiots with access to Facebook and Twitter (which have been around long enough to no longer be Satanic, but secretly censored) insisted there was something nasty in the vote shed. They pulled out of their asses a "theory" that Maricopa County poll workers were giving Sharpies to registered Republicans only, to make their votes unscannable. Samples, from Nick Martin, who writes about extremism and hate groups at his "Informant" newsletter:
In Arizona, which turned blue last night, conservatives are cooking up a conspiracy theory that is already being ca… https://t.co/zY79PikVLJ— Nick Martin (@Nick Martin)1604511409.0
Again, this is bullshit; as Martin notes, the county elections department explains in its voting FAQ that "Vote Centers use fine tip sharpies as they have the fastest drying ink, therefore preventing smudges when put through the Vote Center tabulation equipment."
Ah, but that's what they want you to think, now isn't it? Lizard people can't be trusted!
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is demanding an explanation (it will be that the ballots were all counted), and as Nick Martin points out, the bullshit has even made its way to Fox News contributor, Trump pal, and general rightwing idiot Matt Schlapp, whose wife Mercedes works for the Trump campaign. Schlapp has repeatedly tweeted about the nontroversy, insisting there's deep evil going on.
One thing makes Schlapp's advocacy of the stupid controversy worse than the average wingnut's: He is part of the Trump campaign's brain trust for interfering with the vote count in Nevada; the campaign is claiming that 10,000 Nevada voters no longer live there and must have their ballots invalidated.
Last night's protests at the elections department got rolling when a perfectly nice rightwing militia, "AZ Patriots," some in full battle rattle, walked into the office to complain about the Sharpies that stoled their votes, or at least stoled someone's votes. After being told to leave, they hung out in the parking lot as more and more oddballs showed up to demand the counting of the supposedly purloined votes. Phoenix New Times has a nice overview of the impromptu colloquium on self-government, which would surely have pleased the Founders:
The crowd here drew a fringe element. AZ Patriots leader Jennifer Harrison, currently charged with identity theft, showed up and told the crowd about her exploits, including how she had been kicked out of her position as a vote observer in a previous election and been sued for harassing asylum seekers. She claimed that the votes were taking so long because the results were being changed.
Also present and speaking to the crowd was conspiracy theorist, sexual-assault-apologist, and Trump supporter Mike Cernovich.
Did wingnut congressman/dentist Paul Gosar (R-DDS) show up? Gosar the Destroyer, who has previously suggested that George Soros planned Charlottesville as a false-flag slur on patriots and dreamed of dying on an imaginary battlefield instead of from COVID-19 (wrong on both counts), put in an appearance and demanded to be let in, but nothing doing, sir, we are busy changing all the ballots. Were there people carrying long guns? It's Arizona, of course there were!
And did they have things to chant? You betcha, New Times reports:
The assembled group also chanted "Count the votes," "Stop the steal," and at one point, "Kyle Rittenhouse did nothing wrong." After pizzas arrived and were passed around, the crowd chanted "Pizzagate" — in reference to a conspiracy theory spread by Cernovich which claimed Hillary Clinton was involved in pedophilia, and which led to a man shooting up a pizza parlor.
The protesters didn't actually manage to disrupt the count, or even persuade Maricopa County officials to come out and hear their eloquent pleas for justice. Eventually, when the office closed for the night, the protesters went home and prepared for another hard day of battling nonexistent vote fraud.
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