PHOENIX, Ariz. – As President Donald Trump closes the gap in for votes Arizona, pressure mounts on Fox News and the Associated Press (AP) to retract their earlier projections awarding the state’s 11 electoral votes to Democrat Joe Biden.
As of this writing, Biden leads the president by less than 70,000 votes, with 12 percent of the vote still to be counted including 275,000 ballots in Phoenix-area Maricopa County alone. Biden’s 2.4 percent lead Thursday is now half what it was Wednesday morning when the AP called the race. The lead narrowed after a ballot drop overnight, in which Trump took nearly 58 percent of the votes. If that rate continues, the president will secure what he needs to cross the finish line. The Maricopa County Elections Department said another round of votes would drop Thursday evening at 9 p.m. eastern.
Several other Trump strongholds still haven’t counted thousands of ballots cast in rural parts of the state, including Yuma County in southwest Arizona where only 77 percent of the vote has been reported.
Republicans have carried the state of Arizona in every election since 1952., except for in 1996. If Trump loses Arizona, the president will lose re-election pending a Biden win in neighboring Nevada, where the former vice president has been steadily expanding a narrow lead as the last votes are reported. In turn, the Trump campaign has exhibited confidence in Arizona keeping the president’s re-election chances alive and have called on Fox and the AP to retract their previous projections.
“Trump is on pace to win Arizona,” Miller told reporters Thursday morning, while also pointing out “even Nate Silver,” legacy media’s favorite pollster has urged rival outlets to retract their projections for Biden.
The uncertainty over the critical Western battleground has provoked concerns over the ballot counting process. Trump’s leads in several other states have diminished following election officials working behind closed doors. The anxiety has led to protests outside the Maricopa County elections center Wednesday night, led by community activists and west Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar.
— Tristan Justice (@JusticeTristan) November 5, 2020
“This is where America makes sure that their voice is heard. It’s at the election box,” Gosar told The Federalist. “And they got to make sure that all elections are fair, that people are heard, their voice and vote are counted.”
Several speakers at the protest raised concerns over the county’s reported use of Sharpie markers at polling stations where the ink bled through the paper invalidating their ballots. Local election officials have re-assured voters that ballots marked with Sharpie are still valid, chalking up talk of “Sharpiegate” as nothing more than a conspiracy theory pointing to pre-election day tweets highlighting that Sharpies may be used.
Voters who received an early ballot in the mail but chose to instead vote in-person will see their early ballot status as “Canceled” on their Ballot-by-Mail/Early Ballot Status update. This is because the early ballot is canceled so the ballot cast-in person can be counted. 2/ pic.twitter.com/OoxnGQactg
— Secretary Katie Hobbs (@SecretaryHobbs) November 4, 2020
The Arizona attorney general’s office however, has launched an investigation into the issue.
The Federalist has not independently confirmed whether ballots marked by Sharpie have been thrown out, though one voter named Andrew Borowski, whose vote still hasn’t shown up online, shared a picture of his official ballot where ink from the marker appeared to bleed through. If the ink bled to other ballots in the process, that could likely cause problem in the counting.
“There was over hundreds of complaints that we took,” Gosar told The Federalist on the issue. “So the question has to be asked … That’s why it’s important you get an identification number and you can track your ballot.”
This article has been corrected since publication.