PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - As Maricopa County workers verified ballots and results, more than 200 people took part in a peaceful protest in downtown Phoenix on Wednesday night, claiming some ballots haven't been properly counted.

Sharpies will not invalidate your ballot, Maricopa County officials say

Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies were in tactical gear stood just outside the entrance to the elections center, making sure no one comes inside. At around 10 p.m. the media was escorted out of the lobby and the building was shut down. About 15 minutes later, the group started to thin out. However, as of 10:45 p.m., there are still about 50 people outside of the building with deputies standing guard.

It all started when the group AZ Patriots initially walked right into the Maricopa County Recorder's Office at Third Avenue and Lincoln Street, live streaming around 7 p.m. One of the members was wearing a military vest and made a claim the County used Sharpie pens to make some ballots invalid. The conspiracy gained traction on Wednesday, but the officials said that it is not true and Sharpie pens don't disqualify ballots.

After demonstrators were kicked out of the elections center, they stayed in the parking lot. Some President Donald Trump supporters and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden supporters joined them in the parking lot.

"Count every vote," a few of them chanted. 

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Also protesting was Jennifer Harrison, a leader of Arizona's Patriot movement. She had a megaphone and was calling out Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, saying, "Where are our votes, Adrian?" Fontes is the head of elections for Maricopa County.

The group then moved to the Arizona Capitol Building to protest the election results. They stayed there for about a half-hour before moving back to the Maricopa County Recorder's Office. The group continued to grow with more than 200 people there as of 9:30 p.m., with it being mostly Trump supporters. They chanted "Four more years" and "Count the votes." Others chanted, "Stop the steal," implying Biden was stealing the election in Arizona.

Rep. Paul Gosar, who was recently reelected, arrived at the protest later in the night. He used a megaphone to talk to the protesters. The Republican also led the group in prayer.

The demonstration has gotten a little rowdy but nothing violent.

"All the ballots haven't been counted, and the state was called way before," said voter, Basil Fernimos.

At a news conference held by The Trump Campaign Thursday, anyone who suspected election fraud was asked to speak up.

"I believe one of the reasons we're standing here is because we want to ensure the integrity of elections in Arizona and The Republican Party in Arizona," said GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward.

When asked if The Trump Campaign would initiate a lawsuit in Arizona, Advisor David Bossie said, "All options are on the table to protect every single legal vote that has been made in Arizona."

Some voters are feeling the stress.

"I haven't been able to sleep for a long time over this," said Trump supporter, Esther Carr.

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone released the following statement about the protest last night:

"The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office was present prior to and throughout last night’s protest at the County Elections Office to ensure the safety of the staff and security of the facility.

We are committed to the safety of our community and the protected process of democracy. Our efforts will continue and expand to appropriately meet the capacity and dynamics of these potential engagements.

Peaceful activities will be respected and protected. Acts of violence, threatening behaviors or criminal damage of property will not be tolerated.

We are unwavering in our efforts to promote public safety."

 

Copyright 2020 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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