PHOENIX—As voters across the country wait anxiously for the results of the 2020 presidential race to come through, hundreds of Arizonians gathered outside the Maricopa County Elections Department—where ballots are still being counted—to voice their concerns on the integrity of the election process.
Arizonians just want to make sure their votes are counted appropriately and deposited in the right name, said Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who spoke briefly to the crowd.
“That’s all they want, that’s exactly why they’re here,” he told The Epoch Times at the Nov. 6 rally. “They have the right to assemble and use free speech.”
Gosar said “there’s a lot of concerns” when it comes to the voting process in Arizona.
Happening now: massive “Protect the Vote” rally in Phoenix, Arizona.
— Bowen Xiao (@BowenXiao_) November 6, 2020
“Voter logs of eligible voters haven’t been purged very well,” he said. “There are also some concerns that not everybody is on the same voter calibration system.”
In the 17 presidential elections between 1952 and 2016, only one Democratic candidate has won Arizona—Bill Clinton in 1996.
Gosar also touched upon concerns that ballots filled using Sharpies were rejected due to ink from markers bleeding through. The office of Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich opened an inquiry recently after hundreds of voters filed complaints about Sharpies at polling locations.
Sharpies were made available at all 175 voting locations on Election Day in Maricopa County, the largest county in the state, officials said. A post-election analysis on the number of spoiled ballots is underway.
“When people are kept in the dark, it always becomes problematic,” Gosar said. “Why don’t we have all the television stations come on in and do up a whole bunch of test cases with the markers and the Sharpies, put them through, and see if they are disruptive. Why not address this?”
Loss In Trust
The Epoch Times spoke to a dozen voters at the rally, many of whom felt disheartened and frustrated from this year’s drawn-out election process. Some questioned why Arizona couldn’t get its results out on election night like Florida had.
Concerns over mail-in voting mishaps, other potential ballot issues, or alleged voter fraud were brought up. Both Biden and Trump have projected a win for their side.
Amber Hunt, who was at the rally, said she feels there has been a lot of questions from both sides on whether the votes were fully and properly counted. She will accept any decision that is made, as long it’s a fair election.
“I just don’t want to feel cheated,” she said. “You can heal from losing, it’s a lot harder to heal from feeling cheated.”
Her sister, who voted in Pinal County, was given a sharpie and her vote was rejected, according to Hunt.
“That right there leads me to call for a recount of the Sharpie votes,” she added. “I understand that they are saying it doesn’t affect it but can we at least look into things?”
“There has to be different things put into place so we can trust things were done correctly,” she said.
According to Brian Curtis, it’s not just Arizona which has issues with election integrity.
“When a system seems to be as flawed as it is across the country you can’t question that every state has been flawed or tainted in some respects,” said Brian Curtis.
Curtis said they initially used Sharpies to fill out their ballots, but when they took them to the polls, officials didn’t accept them, so they filled new ballots without the Sharpie.
“When you’ve got more votes than you have registered voters in certain states … you can’t help but think [the issue is] across the country,” he said.
Kim Johnson, who was born and raised in Phoenix, said he believes people are putting in fake ballots. The future of the election will absolutely be a battle in the courts, he said.
“Dead people voting, people moving out of the area voting—it’s just not heavily supervised,” he said, when talking about the concerns he had.
TJ Bowman, who lives in Buckeye, Arizona, said he was shocked to see the media calling Arizona before the ballots in Maricopa County were fully counted.
Both the Associated Press and Fox News called the race in Arizona for Biden early on in Arizona.
“Maricopa County is overwhelming Republican, its 65 percent of the vote in the state,” he said. “And they call it after a small percentage of the votes are counted up. That’s intellectual dishonesty right there.
“How are you going to ignore the biggest county in the state?” Bowman added. “It makes no sense.”
When he voted in-person early last month, Bowman said he had his Trump hat on and was given an envelope that was difficult to get his ballot in.
“They are doing hundreds of people a day, and me with a Trump hat they gave me a bogus envelope?” he said.
Veronica E. said she came out to show support for Trump. She lamented the fact that each state has different processes, systems, and rules, adding that a nationwide voting process would get her support, if it was run correctly.
She said that while Maricopa County is predominantly Republican, it’s possible the high influx of Californians moving into the state could have had some impact.
According to Stacy Gentile, the energy and enthusiasm on the ground doesn’t match up with the vote tally.
“I have zero faith in anything right now,” Gentile said. “I do not trust the government. I don’t trust the Republicans, I don’t trust the integrity of the voting system, and I definitely don’t trust the justice system.”