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In pictures: Anxiety, suspicion exacerbate US post-election uncertainty

Biden supporters have expressed fears the Republican incumbent may not accept the election result if he were to lose.
Updated 06 Nov, 2020 10:44am

Weary from one of the most bruising US presidential races in modern times, Republican and Democratic voters alike were in a state of high anxiety on Wednesday with the election outcome still unsettled a day after polls closed.

US President Donald Trump’s false declaration of victory in the early hours of Wednesday, as ballot counting continued in several pivotal states, roiled supporters of Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Biden supporters expressed heightened fears the Republican incumbent might not accept the election result if he were to lose.

Read: Trump sues in 3 states, laying ground for contesting election outcome

Many in Trump’s voter base, meanwhile, echoed his unsubstantiated allegations of widespread electoral tampering.

Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather in front of the Arizona State Capitol Building to protest about the early results of the 2020 presidential election. — Reuters
Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather in front of the Arizona State Capitol Building to protest about the early results of the 2020 presidential election. — Reuters

Poll workers speak as votes continue to be counted at the TCF Centre the day after the 2020 US presidential election, in Detroit, on November 4. — Reuters
Poll workers speak as votes continue to be counted at the TCF Centre the day after the 2020 US presidential election, in Detroit, on November 4. — Reuters

“Election fraud is running rampant,” said Trump voter Jimmie Boyd, 48, a North Carolina gun rights activist with ties to local militia groups.

Boyd said he worries “left wingers” could “destroy entire cities” while protesters on the right will be demonised as “racist, phobic freaks of nature”.

People gather at Copley Square at the Boston Public Library calling for a new political party and system, not happy with either political candidate, in Boston on November 4. — AFP
People gather at Copley Square at the Boston Public Library calling for a new political party and system, not happy with either political candidate, in Boston on November 4. — AFP

Police form a a perimeter during protests following the November 3 presidential election in Portland on November 4. — AP
Police form a a perimeter during protests following the November 3 presidential election in Portland on November 4. — AP

Anna Drallios, a Biden voter who immigrated to the United States from Albania in 1967, said Trump’s questioning of the legitimacy of the normal election process while demanding a halt to the vote count had a familiar ring.

“I come from a communist country, and I know what it is like not to have the vote, not to have the voice,” said Drallios, one of a few hundred protesters who rallied in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania capital, chanting, “Count our votes”.

“If we allow our votes to be stolen from us, we are heading toward dictatorship, toward oppression,” she said.

In Detroit, about 30 observers, mostly Republicans, were barred from entering a vote-counting hall by election officials who cited indoor capacity restrictions imposed to prevent spread of the coronavirus. Police were called to enforce the decision.

Supporters of US President Donald Trump bang on the glass and chant slogans outside the room where absentee ballots for the 2020 general election are being counted at TCF Centre on November 4 in Detroit. — AFP
Supporters of US President Donald Trump bang on the glass and chant slogans outside the room where absentee ballots for the 2020 general election are being counted at TCF Centre on November 4 in Detroit. — AFP

Poll workers board up windows so ballot challengers can't see into the ballot counting area at the TCF Centre in downtown Detroit on November 4. — AFP
Poll workers board up windows so ballot challengers can't see into the ballot counting area at the TCF Centre in downtown Detroit on November 4. — AFP

Many of those excluded stood outside the hall voicing their protest and singing “God Bless America” while a second group of Republican observers who were denied entry held a prayer circle nearby.

They also broke into chants of “stop the vote” and “stop the count.” CNN and Edison Research later declared Biden the winner in Michigan.

The post-Election Day tension proved hard for many to bear. Some turned to caffeine or sought solace in chores and other distractions.

Biden supporter Jamie Sullivan, 36, checks her phone as she sits in a park in downtown Los Angeles on November 4. — Reuters
Biden supporter Jamie Sullivan, 36, checks her phone as she sits in a park in downtown Los Angeles on November 4. — Reuters

“It’s like the twilight zone,” said Tanya Wojciak, 39, who reckoned she had downed 17 cups of coffee and found herself pacing the floors of her home in Cortland, Ohio, as she watched results trickle in from battleground states deluged by record-breaking numbers of early mail-in ballots.

“Trump’s scary, premature declaration of victory has me unnerved,” said Wojciak, who said she voted for Biden even though she is a Republican.

Legal experts have said the election outcome could become bogged down in state-by-state litigation over a host of issues, including whether late-arriving ballots can be counted.

Protests brewing

Activists demanding that vote counts proceed unimpeded rallied in several cities, including Oakland, California, Atlanta, Detroit and New York City.

Hundreds of protesters waving American flags and signs that read, “Count every vote, every vote counts,” demonstrated peacefully at Washington Square Park after marching through midtown Manhattan.

Read: Police arrest 10 in Portland, 50 in New York on night after US vote

“It’s very important that we make sure that our democracy is maintained,” said Meira Harris, 26, a social work student. “This election has provoked so much anxiety.”

City police posted pictures on social media of debris fires in lower Manhattan that they said were set by protesters. They said at least 20 people were arrested, accused of blocking traffic, disorderly conduct and similar offenses.

Reverend Bianca Davis-Lovelace speaks at a rally and march to "Count Every Vote, Protect Every Person" in Seattle, Washington on November 4. — AFP
Reverend Bianca Davis-Lovelace speaks at a rally and march to "Count Every Vote, Protect Every Person" in Seattle, Washington on November 4. — AFP

Police officers stand guard as they clear the streets during a protest in Los Angeles on November 4. — AP
Police officers stand guard as they clear the streets during a protest in Los Angeles on November 4. — AP

The Protect the Results coalition, encompassing dozens of groups from Planned Parenthood to Republicans for the Rule of Law, had said it was organising a day of mass protests in 500 cities. But those plans were put on hold late in the day.

US officials said they have kept a wary eye on right-wing militias, worried that Trump’s allegations of ballot fraud could bring heavily armed groups out onto the streets. So far, they appeared to be keeping a low profile.

Enrique Tarrio, leader of the far-right men’s group Proud Boys, said he and three others were stabbed early on Wednesday blocks away from the White House.

One of his alleged assailants wore a “Black Lives Matter” mask, he told Reuters.

Local police said they could not confirm that account and no arrests were immediately made. The Washington chapter of the anti-racism movement said on Twitter it had nothing to do with the alleged attack.

Retreat from the frenzy

In Gibsonburg, Ohio, Tom Younker distracted himself from televised election coverage by tending to his tomato garden.

A 74-year-old painting contractor who has served on the local board of elections for 34 years, Younker said he caught just a few hours of sleep after a late night tallying votes.

“It’s like an up-and-down see-saw,” said Younker, a Biden voter. “You think you’re going to win pretty big, then you see it tightening.”

Protestors walk past an image of a Native American woman during a march to "Count Every Vote, Protect Every Person" on the day after the US Presidential Election in Seattle on November 4. — AFP
Protestors walk past an image of a Native American woman during a march to "Count Every Vote, Protect Every Person" on the day after the US Presidential Election in Seattle on November 4. — AFP

A woman wearing a face mask with a sticker takes part in a protest in Los Angeles on November 4. — AP
A woman wearing a face mask with a sticker takes part in a protest in Los Angeles on November 4. — AP

In McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania, Stanley Kerlin, 66, a lawyer who voted for Trump, questioned the integrity of those tabulating many of the ballots in his state.

“Most of them are down in Philadelphia and you can’t trust those people any further than you can throw ‘em,” said Kerlin, a Pennsylvania Republican Party committee member.

Still, he said Trump spoke too soon in claiming victory early on Wednesday.

Judy Mowery, 60, a Biden voter from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, said she worried about violence between opposing political blocs regardless of the outcome.

“Even if Biden wins, which I think he may, we as a country have lost,” Mowery said. “We are even more divided than I thought.”


Header image: People take part in a rally demanding a fair count of the votes of the 2020 US presidential election, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 4. — Reuters