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Election 2020 live updates: Late-night counting in Georgia, Pennsylvania moves Biden closer to victory

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President Trump and Joe Biden
(Photo illustration / Los Angeles Times)

The fate of the presidency still hangs in the balance as President Trump and Joe Biden duel over a few remaining battleground states.

Joe Biden may be able to clinch the White House with just one more state. Democrats are confident he’ll get there in Nevada, Pennsylvania or Georgia. Our reporters are bringing dispatches from cities in battleground states. Follow our live coverage.

2020 presidential election: Live results |California election: Live results| Los Angeles election: Live results | Photos: Vote counting continues in presidential race too close to call

Biden takes the lead in Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden pulled into the lead in Pennsylvania — a state that would give him the electoral votes to win the presidency — as his campaign prepared to claim victory after days of prolonged vote counting.

The lead in Pennsylvania came just hours after Biden also overtook President Trump by the slimmest of margins in Georgia, moving ahead in a state that Democrats have not won in a presidential election since 1992.

Pennsylvania still has tens of thousands of ballots left to count. But they come primarily from parts of the state that heavily favored Biden, leaving his campaign confident that he will soon be declaring overall victory.

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GOP senator calls Trump’s speech ‘hard to watch,’ rejects fraud claims

WASHINGTON — Retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey called President Trump’s Thursday night speech “very hard to watch.”

During a widely criticized statement from the White House briefing room, Trump claimed without substantiation that there was significant fraud in the election. There has been no evidence to support such a claim.

“The president’s allegations of large-scale fraud and theft of the election are just not substantiated,” Toomey (R-Pa.) said on the “Today” show. “I’m not aware of any significant wrongdoing here.”

While some of Trump’s more fervent GOP allies on Capitol Hill have come to his defense, Toomey is one of the few Republicans so far to question those comments.

Toomey did cite problems with election officials keeping observers too from the counting in Philadelphia to adequately observe the process, but he made clear that didn’t rise to the level of fraud.

“This is the sort of thing you wish wouldn’t happen,” he said, “but is there any evidence that I’m aware of that there is significant large scale fraud or malfeasance anywhere in Pennsylvania? Absolutely not.”

On Twitter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) echoed Trump’s baseless claim about “illegally-submitted ballots” without going so far as to claim there is wide-scale fraud.

“Every legal vote should be counted. Any illegally-submitted ballots must not. All sides must get to observe the process. And the courts are here to apply the laws & resolve disputes,” he wrote.

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As count goes on, election officials worried by threats and protesters

Election officials in several states said Thursday they are worried about the safety of their staffs amid a stream of threats and gatherings of angry protesters outside their doors, drawn by President Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud in the race for the White House.

“I can tell you that my wife and my mother are very concerned for me,” said Joe Gloria, the registrar in Clark County, Nevada, which includes Las Vegas. He said his staff was bolstering security and tracking vehicles coming and going from the election offices.

But he added that he and others would not be stopped from “doing what our duty is and counting ballots.”

Groups of Trump supporters have gathered at vote tabulation sites in Phoenix, Detroit and Philadelphia, decrying counts that showed Democrat Joe Biden leading or gaining ground.

While the protests have not been violent or very large, local officials were distressed by the crowds and concerned about the relentless accusations.

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Biden takes lead in Georgia as count nears conclusion

Joe Biden overtook President Trump on Friday in the Southern battleground state of Georgia, pulling into the lead by a slim margin in the traditionally GOP stronghold as poll workers in a handful of blue and red counties continued to tally absentee ballots.

Early Friday, Biden’s lead over Trump in Georgia stood at nearly 1,100 votes. The state has a bounty of 16 electoral college votes, a prize that would put Biden within striking distance of winning the presidency.

About 10,000 outstanding absentee ballots come from a mix of suburban and rural counties, with one of the biggest hauls coming from democratic-leaning Gwinnett County. A few thousand military, overseas and provisional ballots are also pending.

Ballot-counting went deep into the night Thursday and into Friday morning, with thousands still left to tabulate.

“I am prayerful that we can get to a resolution by the end of the day,” Gabriel Sterling, the voting system implementation manager for the secretary of state’s office, said at a news conference at the state Capitol on Thursday. “But as has been pointed out by everybody, this is going to be an extremely close margin — especially in a presidential election. … It may take a minute.”

Later in the day, Sterling said he was still prayerful. “But if it has to go to tomorrow to make sure that we get it accurately done, then so be it.”

The state’s presidential race, he said, was “more than likely” going to go to a recount, adding that most recounts do not make a difference. According to Georgia law, a recount can be requested if the margin between the two candidates is 0.5% or less of the total vote.

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Trump’s lead in Georgia shrinks to fewer than 1,000 votes

The margin between President Trump and Joe Biden in the Southern battleground state of Georgia continued to narrow as election workers in mostly Democratic-leaning counties continued to tally absentee ballots.

Early Friday morning Eastern time, with more than 4.9 million votes counted, Trump led Biden by a few hundred votes.

Only 14,097 absentee ballots had remained uncounted as of 10:35 p.m. Eastern, according to Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state. His office’s website stopped giving updated numbers soon after, but the Clayton County website continued updating its count.

The remaining outstanding ballots come from a mix of blue and red counties, with some of the biggest hauls coming from predominantly Democratic-leaning suburbs.

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As America waits, demonstrators demand to count (or stop counting) the votes

PHOENIX — With President Trump’s reelection hopes looking worse by the hour, pro-Trump demonstrators held rallies in critical battleground states across the U.S. on Thursday as vote counters tabulated the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Trump’s supporters have taken up the president’s baseless claims of fraud and his demands to variously stop counting or keep counting votes, depending on whether he’s ahead. As of Thursday evening, the Republican continued trailing Joe Biden in Arizona and Nevada and his lead over the Democrat was dwindling in Pennsylvania and Georgia.

In north Phoenix, about 200 pro-Trump demonstrators chanted “Four more years” and waved signs saying “Count the Votes” outside the state GOP headquarters.

“Count the votes” is a pro-Biden chant in the Eastern states where the president leads, and a pro-Trump one in the Western states where the president trails.

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Voters reject Proposition 18, which would’ve given some 17-year-olds the right to vote in California

SACRAMENTO — Proposition 18, which would allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary and special elections if they turn 18 before the next general election, was rejected by California voters.

The proposed amendment to the state Constitution would have permitted California to join at least 18 other states that allow some 17-year-olds to cast ballots, including red states such as Kentucky and Mississippi and blue states such as Illinois and Maryland.

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What if there’s a recount in the presidential race? Here are the rules in the closest states

With Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on the verge of victory and gaining or leading in vote counts in several key states, the Trump campaign has made unsubstantiated claims of fraud and threatened a variety of legal counterattacks to avoid defeat.

One of the most important tools that could tilt the outcome of a race are recounts of the votes. But rules for triggering recounts vary by state. Here’s a look at the rules, according to research by the National Assn. of Secretaries of State.

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Despite Pelosi’s confident predictions, House Democrats lost seats. What happened?

WASHINGTON — After confidently predicting Democrats would expand their House majority, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is having to explain why it looks like they will actually lose seats.

Democrats will keep the House majority, but the losses there come as Democrats appear likely to take the White House and improve their numbers in the Senate.

Republicans flipped seven Democratic House seats so far, mostly in districts President Trump had carried in 2016 and then were won by Democrats in the 2018 midterm. Democrats have gained two GOP seats.

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Officials blast Trump as he continues to falsely claim election fraud

OVIEDO, Fla. — Some Republicans joined other officials in swiftly condemning President Trump’s latest false claims late Thursday that he is being robbed of a reelection victory by fraudulent votes in decisive states where Joe Biden appears to be winning.

“There is no defense for the President’s comments tonight undermining our Democratic process,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, tweeted shortly after Trump spoke from the White House briefing room. “America is counting the votes, and we must respect the results as we always have before. No election or person is more important than our Democracy.”

In televised remarks to reporters, Trump said, without providing any evidence of wrongdoing: “If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.”

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Kanye West receives thousands of votes from Orange County residents

As the nation watches a tight presidential race and agonizes over the future of American democracy, Kim Kardashian’s husband received thousands of votes from Orange County residents.

As of noon Wednesday, West and his American Independent Party running mate Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente Guerra received 3,641 votes for president from Orange County residents. West was listed as a vice presidential candidate on the California ballot.

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Trump votes erode Biden’s Arizona lead

PHOENIX — President Trump continued to close in on rival Joe Biden in Arizona on Thursday night as new vote totals from the Phoenix area trimmed the Democrat’s statewide share to 50.1%, compared with Trump’s 48.5%.

Election workers in populous Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, spent the day tabulating some of the 300,000 outstanding votes from this left-leaning region of the traditionally red state, as Trump supporters held rallies to echo the president’s baseless assertions that the vote counting has been corrupted by Democratic officials — and that he still has a good chance of winning.

County officials set up a “free speech zone” for protesters after more than 100 Trump supporters demonstrated outside their offices Wednesday night.

As of 7 p.m. Mountain time, Biden had 1,528,319 votes in Arizona and Trump had 1,482,062. Maricopa County, where the bulk of outstanding ballots come from, is expected to release new totals later Thursday night and again Friday morning.

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In Detroit, opposing protesters got bored and started chatting, one singing ‘This is America’

DETROIT — This city’s ballots have all been counted, and Michigan has been called in the presidential race for Democrat Joe Biden. But that didn’t stop a couple dozen supporters of Biden and President Trump from gathering outside the city’s main absentee ballot counting center Thursday.

The convention center was the site of heated protests the day before. But on a balmy Thursday afternoon, the two sides waved signs at passing cars, watched by a handful of city police officers and reporters.

Cars drove by, some flying Trump flags — prompting a cheer from the president’s supporters. Others blasted YG and Nipsey Hussle’s “F— Donald Trump,” drawing a few Biden supporters to dance in the street.

Tensions remained high in the state as Atty. Gen. Dana Nessel urged protesters to stop hectoring her employees.

“Dear members of the public: Please stop making harassing & threatening calls to my staff,” she tweeted. “They are kind, hardworking public servants just doing their job. Asking them to shove Sharpies in uncomfortable places is never appropriate and is a sad commentary on the state of our nation.”

But in downtown Detroit, a lack of activity gave way to boredom. Several protesters did something that seems rare this political cycle — they decided to talk to one another. Notably, there were a few moments of agreement, such as vocal disdain for the two-party system.

“The people that wrote the Constitution said a two-party system was going to be the end of the country, a two-party system immediately pits people against each other,” said Brendan Scorpio, a 23-year-old graduate student and Biden voter.

Trump supporter Grace Terry, 55, of Lansing concurred.

“Absolutely. I agree 100% with you there, because we need more than just two parties,” said the retired home healthcare worker from Lansing. “There are [bad] Republicans, and there are [bad] Democrats. Both parties are shady, and I have been saying this for years, that we need four to six on the debate stage.”

It was a rare moment of accord.

The two sides disagreed about most everything, often with salty language that cannot be published by this news organization — whether systemic racism exists or racist incidents are prompted by a few bad actors; the meaning of white privilege; whether resources should be shifted from the police to community services; the medical care of veterans.

It grew tense at times: “Don’t ask me to say sorry if you don’t like the f—ing menu,” filmmaker Naya shouted at Terry, after she became upset over criticism of her claim to have friends of many nationalities who don’t feel disenfranchised.

But, in a fleeting moment of self-reflection, they also agreed that their rancor was partly prompted by the partisan toxicity in the nation today.

“I think that we’ve all had some really good conversations, even though it started out a bit hostile,” Terry said. “That’s OK. That’s the temperature of the country.”

A young community organizer, who declined to give her name, agreed, saying, “America is very angry right now.”

Terry agreed, saying that she had family members who served in the military to guarantee everyone’s right to speak out.

“This is America,” she said.

AJ, a 26-year-old who declined to give his last name, started singing Childish Gambino’s song “This is America.”

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Bipartisan election panel in Philadelphia pushes back at Trump’s baseless allegations

PHILADELPHIA — The bipartisan commission that oversees elections in Philadelphia pushed back Thursday against President Trump’s baseless allegation of corruption in the city’s vote count.

Trump and his campaign advisors have falsely accused Philadelphia election workers of blocking the Republican president’s poll watchers from observing their count of mail-in ballots at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Even though observers are already allowed to watch election workers from six feet away, Trump’s campaign has filed state and federal lawsuits to halt the ballot counting until his poll watchers are allowed to observe the count from a close distance.

“The Board of Elections will oppose efforts to slow down the ongoing count in court and will continue to treat all parties equally,” the election commissioners said in a written statement.

“The Board has been completely transparent in its election process and the Trump campaign has had certified canvas observers in the Convention Center to view the counting operation all day long today,” as it has since ballot processing started Tuesday morning, the statement said.

Trump’s Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, has been winning 80% of the overall vote in Philadelphia and 93% of mail-in ballots.

Its remaining ballots threaten to erase Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania on Thursday night or Friday, costing him not just the crucial battleground state but also the entire election. Trump can’t secure an electoral college majority without the state’s 20 electoral votes.

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Pro-Trump crowd grows outside election department in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — Shortly before 6 p.m., a crowd of about 100 people gathered outside the election department in Las Vegas.

They held flags that read “Capitalism sucks. Trump 2020” and wore red “Keep America Great” hats.

“They’re trying to steal this thing,” a man told Paula Speight, who held a sign that read “Thou shalt not steal the vote.”

The Las Vegas resident said she has friends who received two or three mail ballots.

“Why is that? They already vote at the polls,” Speight said. “Why’d they get a ballot? They didn’t request it.”

All active registered voters in Nevada were sent a ballot in the mail for this year’s general election.

A man nearby screamed about mail ballots that he received, stating that he hadn’t gotten one in 25 years but got three this year.

Across from the building, they chanted, “Stop the steal” and “Nevada for Trump.”

Speight said Trump has “fought hard for us,” which is what prompted her to come out.

“He’s putting on one hell of an interview for us, and we’re supposed to be hiring him,” she said. “We knew they were going to try to steal the vote, but we had no idea the depths. The deep state is really deep.”

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Fact-checking Trump’s claims on vote counting in Detroit

Men talk to one another amid a group of protesters
Maceo Rhodes, 34, confronts a Trump supporter outside the Detroit ballot counting site at TCF Center.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

DETROIT — President Trump on Thursday falsely claimed that GOP observers were blocked from observing absentee ballot tallying in Detroit.

He attacked the city, calling it among “the most corrupt places of anywhere in our country, easily.”

“When our observers attempted to challenge activity, those ballot workers jumped in front of the volunteers to block their view so that they couldn’t see what they were doing,” he alleged.

“And it became a little bit dangerous. One major hub for counting ballots in Detroit covered up the windows again with large pieces of cardboard.”

Trump was likely referring to the city’s main absentee ballot counting room at the convention center. About 135 observers from both the Democratic and Republican parties are officially allowed to observe and challenge ballot counting in the room, according to attorney David Porada, who was volunteering for the state GOP and observing the scene on Wednesday.

Both parties had more than 200 people inside, exceeding the COVID-19 limit on the density of the people in the room, so no more were let in until people left, Porada said.

Hundreds of Trump supporters were denied entrance to the room and chanted outside; the situation grew so tense that a line of Detroit police officers blocked the protestors from entering the room.Election workers at one point did place cardboard or pizza boxes over the windows. However, GOP observers were already inside the room, Porada said.

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Judge orders Postal Service to search for ballots, but no evidence so far of widespread missing votes

As deadlines for mail ballots loom in several swing states, including Nevada and North Carolina, a federal judge on Thursday ordered the U.S. Postal Service to conduct twice-daily searches for any undelivered votes.

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia instructed Postal Service employees at processing facilities nationwide to sweep each morning and afternoon for any ballots, and to expedite their processing, until the mail ballot receipt deadline has passed in each state.

The order specifically mentions three mail plants in Pennsylvania, where ballots must be received by Friday to be counted.

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President Trump speaks at White House, repeating baseless claims of fraud

President Trump spoke publicly Thursday evening for the first time since election night, stepping behind a White House lectern to spread baseless accusations of voter fraud.

“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” he said. “If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.”

Trump appeared subdued as he read prepared remarks. He also blamed pollsters for conducting “suppression polls” to reduce enthusiasm among his supporters and make it harder to win the election.

With his path to reelection growing increasingly narrow, Trump’s remarks devolved into a stream of unfounded allegations.

“They’re trying to steal an election,” he insisted. “They’re trying to rig an election.” He didn’t take questions.

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Multiple lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign, but mixed results

WASHINGTON — President Trump is getting mixed results in his legal attempts to tip the election in his favor.

On Thursday, a Georgia state court rejected his campaign’s argument that late mail ballots were being improperly mixed with ones that arrived on time.

Then a Michigan state court said the campaign failed to show that poll observers were being improperly barred from observing ballot processing.

Trump’s team announced it would be filing another lawsuit in Nevada. It’s unclear what the outcome will be, but the campaign has provided no evidence for its claims that there was illegal voting in the state.

The president had more luck in Pennsylvania, although his limited victories were unlikely to have a significant effect on the election results. His campaign obtained a state court order requiring poll observers to be closer to the ballot counting process, then filed another lawsuit in federal court saying local officials weren’t following the earlier order.

Trump is also fighting to limit how long Pennsylvania voters have to provide missing proof of identification for mail ballots — his campaign wants Nov. 9, while the state set the deadline at Nov. 12.

A state judge directed counties to segregate ballots based on when the proof of identification was provided — but did not say they would be invalidated — as the issue is considered.

Another case is heading toward the U.S. Supreme Court, and Republicans want to prevent Pennsylvania from counting mail ballots that were received after election day.

A similar effort was already rejected, but they may fare differently now that Amy Coney Barrett has replaced Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the bench.

Either way, it’s unclear whether there would be enough late-arriving ballots to tip the scales in either direction.

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Creeping fears for the future, no matter who wins, in Arizona

PHOENIX — Alex Trimble Young is no fan of President Trump. But as the Democrat watches Joe Biden’s lead wither in his adoptive home state of Arizona with each release of new statewide vote totals, he’s left with a creeping fear that this traditionally red state may stay that way. Young, a transplant like many of Maricopa County’s 4.5 million residents, moved from Los Angeles to Phoenix for work in 2017.

He’s one of the many left-leaning new residents in and around the state capital who’ve changed its political makeup and turned Arizona into an electoral battleground. The state hasn’t chosen a Democrat for president since 1996. Young teaches humanities and gun culture in an honors program at Arizona State University.

But the state is a lesson in its own right, one that can defy expectations, the 39-year-old said. Young says the people here have a different relationship to concepts such as liberty and governance, and they have a connection to nature that might be hard for Democrats in bigger urban centers to understand.

Here in the Grand Canyon State, the blue sky seems endless, fields of saguaro cactus reach to the horizon and soaring cliffs document the passing of millennia in bands of colored stone.

The independent-minded people here often feel distrustful of government regulations that affect their state and many aren’t easily swayed by national politicians on the far left or hard right. Some of the issues that matter most to them — gun rights, the management of federal public lands, America’s treatment of the Indigenous communities that surround Phoenix and other cities — might seem like distant matters to voters in liberal West Coast cities such as L.A., or on the densely populated East Coast. Young grew up in Oklahoma with its sprawling cattle ranches and oil fields, and the fierce pride and individualism that seem ingrained in many Arizonans isn’t entirely foreign to Young, but even so, the state feels unique.

Young lives north of the city’s downtown in a neighborhood of low-lying ranch houses and cottage apartments that’s considered the hub of the LGBTQ community. But across the street from him, a neighbor’s house is adorned with Trump/Pence signs.

He describes himself as “very liberal” conservationist and outdoorsman, which means he’s often in the company of fellow nature-lovers who mainly vote Republican.

Like many who consider themselves conservative, he likes to hunt for quail and fish for trout in the 2.9-million-acre Tonto National Forest about an hour northeast of the Valley of the Sun, the wide expanse where Phoenix’s suburbs sprawl in all directions among orange boulders.

And yet, “coming from L.A., I’ve been kind of amazed by armed protests that we see here on a regular basis,” Young said. He remembers an incident that unfolded outside his classroom one day when he was teaching a lesson on “The Iliad” at ASU’s downtown campus. “There were, like, left-wing and right-wing militias outside,” Young said. “You wouldn’t believe the number of people who show up with guns here.”

Case in point: More than 100 pro-Trump demonstrators, some of them openly carrying firearms, gathered in front of state and county government buildings Wednesday night to pressure elections officials who’ve been tabulating thousands of outstanding votes that they believe will make Trump the winner in this state, not Biden, as some news outlets have projected.

Another “protect the vote” rally, inspired by Trump’s baseless assertion that the presidential election vote count is rife with fraud, is planned for Friday.

“You see it play out in the streets,” he said, “the idea that armed protest is a legitimate means of pushing back against democratic institutions and democratic decision-making.”

While Young may feel skeptical about Biden’s progressive credentials, a second term for Trump, who’s taken steps to unravel environmental protections in Arizona and who’s tested the limits of his constitutional powers, scares him more.

Election day for Young ended with a night of frozen dinners and beer, along with compulsive TV watching and Twitter scrolling after putting his 10-month-old daughter to bed.

And now he must endure days of cliffhanger vote updates here in Arizona and in other states that are still too close to call. Young holds out hope that Biden can maintain his lead in Arizona.

But given Trump’s attempts to interfere with the vote counting, the uncertain fate of key battleground states such as his, and tense protests in Phoenix and in other cities over the voting process, Young said he’ll be worried about something else in the coming weeks and months: The survival of American democracy.

If tensions over the election results escalate, he said, “Where will that leave the country?”

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Trump to speak from White House

The White House says President Trump will speak around 6:30 p.m. ET.

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Pro-Trump protesters in Phoenix wave ‘count the votes’ signs as election officials continue tallying ballots

Protesters with red signs that say Count Legal Votes
Dozens of pro-Trump protesters rally outside Phoenix City Hall on Thursday.
(Matt York / Associated Press )

PHOENIX — About 200 pro-Trump demonstrators chanted “Four more years” and waved signs saying “Count the votes” outside the Arizona GOP headquarters in northern Phoenix on Thursday.

The event was billed as a news conference where several lawmakers and party officials said they’re ready to legally challenge any irregularities that might emerge as election workers tabulate hundreds of thousands of outstanding ballots.

Though Joe Biden maintains a slim lead over President Trump, many at the event said they believed their candidate would ultimately prevail in the traditionally red state.

“The bottom line is, Trump is going to win,” Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko said. “I spoke to him yesterday and I told him.”

“We want to ensure the integrity of elections in Arizona,” state GOP Chair Kelli Ward said when she addressed the crowd.

Wearing her red “Latinas for Trump” T-shirt, Clarice Chavez, 55, said that she was a seventh-generation Arizonan and that everything she knows about the politics of this state tells her that a victory here for Trump is a certainty.

She claimed, without giving substantiated evidence, Democratic election officials in battleground states like Arizona are trying to thwart Trump.

“We know what the frog is going on across the country,” Chavez said.

Election officials have repeatedly said that they are ensuring the integrity of the vote count and that tallying all the ballots simply takes time.

At Wednesday night’s pro-Trump demonstrations at state government and Maricopa County elections buildings, several people were seen with firearms. At least two Trump supporters carried firearms at the GOP headquarters event Thursday.

County officials tweeted Thursday that they’re setting up a “free speech zone” outside the complex where votes are being tabulated, “which will allow protesters to be seen and heard while also ensuring that our Elections staff can do their jobs and leave the building without the threat of intimidation.”

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Arizona officials look to weekend for better idea on vote count; hundreds of thousands of ballots remain uncounted

PHOENIX — Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that 400,000 to 450,000 ballots in Arizona are still to be counted and that officials in charge of ballot tabulation will have a clearer picture of who’s ahead in the presidential contest in the state by the weekend.

“I think that after today and tomorrow, we’ll have a really more clear picture on what Arizona looks like,” Hobbs told Blitzer on Thursday.

She said about 300,000 of those ballots come from heavily populated Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located.

Democrat Joe Biden holds a narrow lead over President Trump in Arizona and both campaigns consider the state crucial to their efforts to accumulate the needed 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.

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Trump’s lead in Georgia shrinks to fewer than 10,000 votes

ATLANTA — The margin between President Trump and Joe Biden in the Southern battleground state of Georgia continued to narrow Thursday as election workers in mostly Democratic-leaning counties continued to tally absentee ballots.

With more than 4.9 million votes counted Thursday afternoon, Trump’s lead had shrunk to 9,525 votes — about 0.19 of a percentage point.

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‘We’ll know very soon’: Biden counsels patience, expresses confidence he will win

Joe Biden speaks Thursday on stage with his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris
Joe Biden speaks Thursday in Wilmington, Del., as his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, stands at left.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

WILMINGTON, Del. — Joe Biden urged calm and “a little patience” during the extended vote tally on Thursday, but reasserted his confidence that he would win the presidential election.

Speaking at a theater in Wilmington, Biden said he spent the day receiving briefings from public health experts about the COVID-19 pandemic.

But he soon pivoted to the prolonged wait for a verdict on Tuesday’s election.

“Each ballot must be counted,” he said. “That’s what we’re going to see going through now .… Democracy is sometimes messy. It sometimes requires a little patience as well.”

Meanwhile, his opponent, President Trump was tweeting in all caps and calling for officials to “STOP THE COUNT.”

Biden, who is on the cusp of clinching the 270 electoral votes he needs to win the presidency, maintained his upbeat tone from Wednesday in his remarks Thursday with running mate Sen. Kamala Harris at his side.

“We continue to feel — the senator and I — we continue to feel very good about where things stand,” he said. “We have no doubt that when the count is finished, Sen. Harris and I will be declared the winner.”

He closed with an endorsement of the integrity of the vote tally.

“The process is working,” Biden said. “The count is being completed and we’ll know very soon.”

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Independent trails in Alaska Senate race, but holds out hope of overtaking Republican incumbent

WASHINGTON — The campaign of Al Gross, who is challenging Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan in Alaska, warned that it believes it can overcome Sullivan’s monumental lead in the state, which could provide Democrats with a tiebreaking vote in the chamber.

Gross, who is running as an independent, has said that he would caucus with Democrats. A win in Alaska would be a remarkable upset, while also potentially bringing Democrats within striking distance of claiming control of the Senate.

Sullivan has a nearly 2-1 lead over Gross with about half of the votes counted, according to the Associated Press. Sullivan has 108,488 votes and Gross has 54,755 as of midday Thursday.

The vast majority of those votes are from election day, according to the Gross campaign. About 153,000 votes remain to be counted, including 117,000 mailed ballots and 17,000 early votes.

Sullivan’s “lead can — and we believe will — be overcome once every vote has been counted in the state,” Gross campaign manager David Keith wrote in a public memo. “Too much of the vote that was cast remains uncounted to call the 2020 U.S. Senate race in Alaska.

Keith cited Gross’ fundraising advantage — $19 million to $9 million — as a reason to believe the race is competitive.

But there are reasons to be skeptical. Alaska is traditionally Republican. And nationally, Democratic challengers to GOP incumbents have a horrible track record this year. Despite high expectations, Democrats have flipped only two Senate seats, in Colorado and Arizona.

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Nevada officials say ballot-count could last through the weekend

A county election worker scans mail-in ballots
A county election worker scans mail-in ballots at a tabulating area as an observer watches at the Clark County Election Department on Thursday in Las Vegas.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

LAS VEGAS — As many across the country pin their hopes and fears on Nevada, the Clark County Registrar said it could take until Saturday or Sunday for most of the mail-in ballots to be counted.

Through Thursday, staff will be counting a little over 51,000 ballots, which will be reported Friday, according to county registrar Joe Gloria. He would not say how many ballots are outstanding, citing the fact that they will continue to receive mail ballots that were postmarked Nov. 3, as well as noting the Nov. 12 deadline for voters to cure ballots they didn’t sign, or where the signature didn’t match in the system.

“I think it’s important for the entire country to understand that mail ballots on this scale is very new to the state of Nevada,” Gloria said. “We made a decision here to provide as much access as we possibly could as a result of the pandemic, and so our process has run a little bit slower.”

“Our goal here in Clark County is not to count fast — we want to make sure that we’re being accurate,” he added. “The results in the state of Nevada obviously are going to be very important to the entire country, and that is our No.1 goal.”

In response to the Trump campaign’s allegations of fraudulent ballots, Gloria said they were “not aware of any improper ballots that are being processed.” He said he personally spoke with a resident who alleged that someone cast her ballot for her.

“We reviewed the ballot, and in our opinion it’s her signature,” he said. He added that she was given the chance “to provide a statement if she wanted to object to that or provide a challenge to do that. She refused to do so.”

“We’re firm in our commitment to making sure that we’re processing our ballots with high integrity in the state of Nevada,” Gloria said. “We’re doing everything we can to uphold the integrity of the process here in Clark County.”

“We’re not concerned with reading as fast as we can. We’re concerned with making sure that we’re accurate in what we report. This is a very important election, and the state of Nevada may make the decision for the president,” he said. “We take that very seriously.”

That morning, the Trump campaign gathered outside of the election department to allege that there were thousands of fraudulent ballots and stated they were asking a judge “to stop the counting of improper votes,” said Adam Laxalt, Nevada’s former attorney general and Trump’s campaign co-chair in the state.

Some Nevada residents also gathered nearby, carrying blue line flags and wearing red Trump hats. Some draped themselves in American flags and one woman held a sign that read, “Protect Democracy, not your party.”

One woman opened her bag to show a Times reporter several ballots she said she and her husband had received. Two of them, she said, were for people who had died about three years ago. “I voted in person, I didn’t trust them,” said the Las Vegas resident, who declined to give her name.

Hilda Guerrero came with her two children, a 2-year old and 15-year-old. She held a sign that read “Latinos for Trump.”

“Están haciendo trampa,” she said. “They’re cheating.” Trucks with Trump flags rolled through the parking lot and a small crowd of Trump supporters stood outside.

When asked about concerns for safety, Gloria said, “I can tell you that my wife and my mother are very concerned for me.”

“I am concerned for the safety of my staff,” he said. “We’re putting measures into place to make sure that we have the security that’s necessary.”

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Michigan judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit

A Michigan judge has dismissed a lawsuit by President Trump’s campaign in a dispute over whether Republican challengers had access to the handling of absentee ballots.

Judge Cynthia Stephens noted that the lawsuit was filed late Wednesday afternoon, just hours before the last ballots were counted. She also said the defendant, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, was the wrong person to sue because she doesn’t control the logistics of local ballot counting, even if she is the state’s chief election officer.

The Associated Press called the Michigan presidential election for Democrat Joe Biden on Wednesday evening. Trump won the state in 2016.

The lawsuit claimed Benson, a Democrat, was allowing absentee ballots to be counted without teams of bipartisan observers as well as challengers. She was accused of undermining the “constitutional right of all Michigan voters ... to participate in fair and lawful elections.”

Benson, through state attorneys, denied the allegations. Much of the dispute centered on the TCF Center in Detroit where pro-Trump protesters gathered while absentee ballots were being counted.

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Perdue falls below 50% in Georgia, where two potential runoff elections may decide control of the Senate

WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. David Perdue’s vote tally in Georgia fell to 49.99% Thursday morning, potentially sending his race into one of two January runoffs that could determine control of the Senate and, with it, a significant say in the agenda of a possible Joe Biden administration.

If Perdue’s tally remains below 50% when counting is finished, he and Democrat Jon Ossoff would face off on Jan. 5. The race for Georgia’s second Senate seat is already headed to a runoff on that date.

The two Georgia races should determine which party holds the final two seats in the Senate. Republicans are expected to hold 50 seats once races are called in North Carolina and Alaska, compared with 48 for Democrats, including two independents who caucus with them.

If Democrats can capture both Georgia seats, they will hold 50. The vice president would break potential tie votes in the Senate. Republicans will have the majority if they win one or both of the seats.

The outcome could have huge consequences. In the Senate, the majority party determines what bills or nominees — for administration posts, judicial appointments and Supreme Court posts — can get a vote at all. The majority also controls the Senate’s investigative agenda and has the power to subpoena.

Republicans are typically favored in runoffs because their voters are historically more likely to turn out in such elections. But with control of the Senate at stake, it is likely that both political parties will throw significant attention and money into the races.

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The Trump campaign makes unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in Nevada

LAS VEGAS — The Trump campaign on Thursday made the unsubstantiated allegation that there were thousands of fraudulent ballots cast in Nevada and said it was asking a judge “to stop the counting of improper votes.” The campaign offered no proof for its allegations at the news conference it called outside the Clark County Election Department.

“We warned for the last few weeks that we could end up with a situation where Nevada decides the fate of the presidency,” said Adam Laxalt, Trump’s campaign co-chair in the state and a former Nevada attorney general.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden holds a narrow lead in the Nevada vote count, which is continuing. Despite experts’ repeated reminders that there has not been widespread fraud in voting by mail, President Trump and his allies have for months claimed that mail ballots would “rig” the election against him. Election officials have repeatedly urged calm as ballots are processed through the states’ legal processes.

Laxalt claimed that thousands of votes have been counted despite people having moved out of Clark County. He said the campaign has received reports of irregularities, “including dead voters who have been counted.”

He did not provide proof, but mentioned a woman who later alleged that someone took her ballot and cast her vote for her.

Election officials in Nevada have repeatedly vouched for the integrity of the vote count.

“We’re firm in our commitment to making sure we’re processing our ballots with high integrity in the state of Nevada,” Clark County Registrar Joe Gloria said Thursday. “We’re doing everything we can to uphold the integrity of the process

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Trump’s mixed message: Stop the count or keep counting?

President Trump’s fruitless calls Thursday morning to “Stop the count” underscored a major problem for the president: He needs some states to keep counting ballots if he has any shot of winning reelection.

Trump was trailing Vice President Joe Biden in Arizona and Nevada when he sent out an all-caps tweet demanding that counting stop, and he needs to catch up in at least one of them to keep Biden from reaching the necessary 270 electoral votes.

In addition, Trump would need to hold on to his shrinking leads in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where Biden is well within striking distance. Trump appeared headed to victory in North Carolina, another battleground state that has not been called.

Trump issued a follow up all-caps tweet falsely claiming that any vote that arrived after election day “will not be counted.” Twitter flagged it as misinformation, a frequent occurrence for a president who has leaned heavily on baseless claims of voter fraud.

It’s a tough math problem and a messy public relations problem for Trump, who has bled credibility during his four years in office with contradictory and often false statements.

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States still in play and what makes them that way

There are outstanding ballots left to be counted in counties where Biden has performed well.

A handful of pivotal states remained in play Thursday in the tightly contested U.S. presidential race. Here, the Associated Press reviews them and examines the reasons why they could still go to either Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Joe Biden:

Georgia

The background: Early Wednesday, Trump prematurely claimed he had carried Georgia.

“It’s ... clear that we have won Georgia. We’re up by 2.5%, or 117,000 [votes] with only 7% [of ballots] left” to count, Trump said during an early morning appearance at the White House. He also said he planned to contest the election before the Supreme Court. It was unclear exactly what legal action he might pursue.

The race is too early to call in Georgia. With an estimated 99% of the vote counted, Trump’s lead has shrunk to about 18,000 votes. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Thursday morning that there were approximately 61,000 ballots still outstanding.

That includes mailed ballots from population-dense counties in the Atlanta metro region that lean Democratic. Biden is overperforming Hillary Clinton’s 2016 showing in those counties, including in their more upscale suburban reaches.

Nevada

The race is too early to call.

The background: About 75% of the votes are in and Biden leads by fewer than 8,000 votes.

But there are outstanding ballots left to be counted. Under state law, they can still be accepted as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday, election day.

Trump narrowly lost Nevada in 2016 as the state has trended toward the Democrats in the past decade. The last Republican presidential contender to win the state was George W. Bush in 2004.

Check this page for live election results

Check this page for live election results

North Carolina

The race is too early to call.

The background Trump prematurely claimed early Wednesday that he won the state, but there are votes still left to be counted.

“We’ve clearly won North Carolina, where we’re up 1.7%, 77,000 votes with only approximately 5% left. They can’t catch us,” Trump said.

Though Trump is correct that he held a nearly 77,000-vote lead, which he maintained Thursday morning, the race is too early to call with up to 116,000 mail ballots left to count, as well as the potential of thousands of provisional ballots.

As long as those ballots were postmarked by Nov. 3, state election officials have until Nov. 12 to count them. And when it comes to mailed ballots, Biden was outperforming Trump. That means the ballots yet to be counted could give Biden a lead.

Pennsylvania

Hundreds of thousands of votes are left to be counted.

The background: Trump, who held a 675,000-vote lead early Wednesday, prematurely declared victory, but by Thursday morning, his lead had slipped to about 136,000 — and the race is destined to get tighter.

One reason is because elections officials are not allowed to process mail-in ballots until election day under state law. It’s a form of voting that has skewed heavily in Biden’s favor after Trump spent months claiming without proof that voting by mail would lead to widespread voter fraud.

Mail ballots from across the state that were counted by late Wednesday overwhelming broke Biden’s direction.

A final vote total may not be clear for days because the use of mail-in ballots, which take more time to process, has surged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Democrats had long considered Pennsylvania a part of their “blue wall” — a group of northern states that also includes Wisconsin and Michigan — that for years had served as a bulwark in presidential elections. In 2016, Trump won each by less than a percentage point.

Biden, who was born in Scranton, claims favorite-son status in the state and has long played up the idea that he was Pennsylvania’s “third senator” during his decades representing neighboring Delaware. He’s also campaigned extensively in the state from his home in Delaware.

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Georgia judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit

A judge in Georgia has dismissed a lawsuit by the state Republican Party and President Trump’s campaign that asked him to ensure a coastal county was following state laws on processing absentee ballots.

Chatham County Superior Court Judge James Bass did not provide an explanation for his decision Thursday at the close of a roughly one-hour hearing. The county includes the heavily Democratic city of Savannah.

The suit had raised concerns about 53 absentee ballots that poll observers said were not part of an original batch of ballots. County elections officials testified that all 53 ballots had been received on time.

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Republican and Democratic voters unite on this: The election results wait is excruciating

Tom Donohoe
Tom Donohoe, a Trump supporter in La Porte, Texas, closely followed the election updates on Wednesday.
(Molly Hennessy-Fiske / Los Angeles Times)

America is in a mood. Or, more accurately, many moods — constantly shifting as one candidate claimed momentum and then the other. From the moments the polls closed Tuesday night through the photo-finish counts on Wednesday, this deeply divided country found itself united in political whiplash.

Such was the case for five Americans, spread across the country, differing in age and race and political persuasion, but all enduring the same ride on the postelection emotional rollercoaster.

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Trump campaign secures order in Pennsylvania to more closely observe ballot-counting

Protesters gather and march at city hall in Philadelphia calling for all votes to be counted in Pennsylvania.
Protesters gather and march at city hall in Philadelphia calling for all votes to be counted in Pennsylvania.
(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)

PHILADELPHIA — President Trump’s campaign secured a state court order in Pennsylvania allowing its team to more closely observe the processing of ballots on Wednesday.

The campaign had complained that election officials were keeping observers too far away.

“Listen, guys, democracy dies in darkness,” said Corey Lewandowski, a Trump campaign advisor. “This is the opportunity to shed light on what’s going on inside this building.”

Lewandowski and other members of Trump’s team announced the court order outside a Philadelphia convention center, where hundreds of city workers are counting ballots, then marched inside to continue their observation.

Campaign officials touted the development as a significant victory, although it’s unclear whether it will make any difference in the actual count besides potentially slowing down the process. Trump is currently leading in Pennsylvania, but mail ballots are still being processed and Democratic candidate Joe Biden is on track to overtake him.

The president’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, denied that Trump could lose.

“We will win Pennsylvania,” he said. “I have as much confidence today as I did yesterday,” when he prematurely declared victory.

Stepien echoed the president’s baseless allegations about voter fraud, accusing Democrats of “lying, cheating and stealing” without presenting any evidence.

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Trump campaign expected to file Nevada lawsuit, 4th state targeted

A county election worker scans ballots at a tabulating area at the Clark County Election Department in Las Vegas.
A county election worker scans ballots at a tabulating area at the Clark County Election Department in Las Vegas.
(John Locher/Associated Press)

WASHINGTON - President Trump’s campaign is expected to file yet another lawsuit on Thursday morning in Nevada, where the race remains too close to call.

The campaign is planning a “major announcement” in Las Vegas. Fox News reported that the lawsuit will allege 10,000 people voted in the state despite not living there.

It’s unclear what evidence, if any, there is for the claim. Trump’s team has repeatedly spread baseless accusations of voter fraud.

The announcement is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. PT, shortly before Nevada releases an update on its ballot count. The state has six electoral votes, and a win for Democratic candidate Joe Biden would secure his victory as long as he maintains his lead in Arizona.

The Associated Press has already projected that Biden will win Arizona, but Trump’s team insists the state is still up for grabs as more votes are counted.

Trump is already pursuing legal action in Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania, three other key battlegrounds.

Biden won Michigan and remains within striking distance in Georgia and Pennsylvania, where officials are still tallying ballots.

Trump’s campaign also said it would ask for a recount in Wisconsin, which Biden carried by a slim margin.

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Biden makes big strides against Trump in Georgia

A protester displays a sign in front of the CNN center in Atlanta.
A protester displays a sign in front of the CNN center in Atlanta.
(John Bazemore / Associated Press)

Joe Biden has significantly narrowed his gap with President Trump in the traditionally conservative state of Georgia, where the margin between them dropped to about .38 of a percentage point early Thursday.

As of about 6 a.m., Biden trailed Trump by fewer than 19,000 votes out of about 4.84 million counted. More ballots are still to be tabulated, many of them from Democratic-leaning areas around Atlanta.

If either of Biden’s currently slim leads in Arizona and Nevada holds, then a win in Georgia would clinch for Biden the 270 electoral college votes a candidate needs to capture the White House.

Victory for Biden in Georgia would also represent the first time a Democratic presidential nominee has taken the state in nearly 30 years, since Bill Clinton won in 1992.

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Protests erupt in Portland and Seattle over Trump campaign court challenges

Oregon State Police arrest a protester
Oregon State Police arrest a protester in Portland, Ore., on Wednesday.
(Associated Press)

Hundreds of protesters demonstrated Wednesday in Seattle and Portland, Ore., against President Trump’s court challenges to stop the vote count in battleground states.

The unrest in Portland prompted the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office to declared a riot about 7 p.m. after protesters were seen smashing windows of businesses. Gov. Kate Brown activated the use of the state National Guard to help local law enforcement manage the unrest, according to the sheriff’s office.

Brown said previously she would keep state troopers, sheriff’s deputies and police officers under a unified command into Friday in Portland to handle protests amid the uncertainty over the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

The Oregon National Guard had been on standby. Brown’s order places law enforcement agencies under the joint command of the Oregon State Police and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department, which allows those agencies to use tear gas if necessary to quell unrest. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who is also police commissioner, banned the use of tear gas by Portland police earlier this fall after concerns about an overly aggressive response to near-nightly protests.

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Biden’s lead shrinks as Arizona vote count proceeds

Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies
Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies stand outside the County Recorder’s Office as President Trump’s supporters rally outside Wednesday night.
(Associated Press)

PHOENIX — Joe Biden continued to lose ground to President Trump in Arizona early Thursday, with an overnight update of vote counts in heavily populated Maricopa County shaving Biden’s lead statewide to 50.5% compared with Trump’s 48.1%.

Tensions are running high in Arizona as both Biden and Trump close in on the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the presidency.

A crowd that fluctuated in size from a few dozen people to more than 100 demonstrated Wednesday evening at the state Capitol in Phoenix and at the Maricopa County elections center where the votes were being tabulated. They demanded that all the state’s votes be counted before a winner is declared, and many lashed out at Fox News and the Associated Press for calling the state for Biden on election night Tuesday despite hundreds of thousands of votes still uncounted.

Several demonstrators were armed, according to news accounts from the scene posted to social media. The crowd started to disperse by late evening.

Officials at the elections department tweeted reassurances to the public late Wednesday, saying that they were committed to tabulating all of the outstanding ballots and expressing gratitude to sheriff’s deputies for helping to protect the building as protesters gathered outside.

The tweet thanked the sheriff’s department “for doing their job, so we can do ours.”

The county’s Democratic recorder, Adrian Fontes, was the target of some of the Trump supporters’ chants Wednesday night because of his role in supervising the vote count. Stephen Richer, the Republican who’s behind in his race against Fontes, urged protesters to let the process unfold.

“Let them count. Please,” Richer tweeted as the crowd of demonstrators grew outside the recorder’s office.

Later, he tweeted that it was in everyone’s interest, including Trump’s, that the ballots “be counted accurately without distraction.”

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