In fact, the race in Arizona seemed to be over already, Fox News and Associated Press named Joe Biden the winner there. But now Donald Trump could still catch up. How can it be?
Who will be the US president from January 20, 2021, now depends on a handful of “swing states”. In Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nevada, Donald Trump and Joe Biden face off as local officials feverishly count the remaining ballots.
Developments in Arizona, which has 11 voter votes, are particularly bizarre. The desert state has reliably voted Republican for decades, but this year the Democrats were hoping to finally conquer the “Grand Canyon State”. His plan seemed to be working: On Tuesday night, when less than 80 percent of the ballots were counted, Fox News of all posts declared Biden the winner in Arizona. A few hours later, the renowned news agency Associated Press followed, on whose judgment numerous press houses such as the “Wall Street Journal” rely. Based on this, the NZZ expects the Democrats to succeed.
The Associated Press then justified its decision in a statement saying that “an analysis of the votes cast across the member state showed that Trump could no longer recover the number of ballots still pending.” The Fox News employee responsible for these decisions also said, “We strongly believe our judgment will be valid.”
More importantly, the fact that his home and court broadcaster Fox News was the first to declare Trump’s defeat in Arizona is said to have caused the president and his team to rebel. This ruined their plan to proclaim Trump victory earlier, even earlier than Trump did at 2:30 PM Eastern Time anyway. According to a New York Times report, his son-in-law Jared Kushner personally called Rupert Murdoch, to whose media conglomerate Fox News he belongs.
Republicans and Democrats used mail-order voting
On Thursday, 10 percent was not counted, or about 450,000 ballot papers, all voted by correspondence. From this, however, it cannot be concluded, as in other states, that there will be more pro Biden votes in the envelopes, because Democrats in particular have preferred mail order votes in the pandemic. Voting by mail has been popular in Arizona for years, experience has shown that 75 to 80 percent of votes are received this way by supporters of both parties.
According to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the governor’s first deputy governor, two-thirds of the remaining votes come from Maricopa County, the Phoenix metropolitan area. Politically, this is fairly evenly divided, but according to the Associated Press, Biden was clearly leading the already counted ballots. The remaining 46,000 ballots also come from the politically left-wing Pima County, which also includes the university city of Tucson. This probably explains why the Associated Press was so confident in its judgment.
But Biden’s lead narrowed significantly Thursday night (local time) to just under 57,000 votes, less than half his lead on Wednesday night. According to media reports, final results are expected on Friday as soon as possible. The Associated Press said in its statement that the counts would be followed up and that the facts would be respected.
Republican pollster Paul Bentz told the local Arizona Republic newspaper that Trump needed 57.6 percent of all outstanding votes to win in Arizona, after all. Interestingly, that was roughly the share of the vote Trump got on Wednesday night when the electoral authority presented the results of a subsequent batch of ballot papers that had just been counted.
Conspiracy theories push Trump supporters into the streets
Trump supporters already suspect election fraud in Arizona. As the “Wall Street Journal” reports, Republicans organized Wednesday using Facebook and Twitter to organize statewide marches. In the evening, a few hundred Trump supporters gathered in downtown Phoenix outside City Hall and then moved to the local electoral authority headquarters.
Earlier, rumors circulated on social networks that helpers had distributed waterproof markers, so-called “felt-tip pens”, to fill out ballot papers at some polling stations. According to the allegations, these went through several layers of paper and thus made the ballot papers unreadable by machines – and therefore invalid. Miraculously, only Republicans are said to have received such markers. Trump’s son Eric also spread the “Sharpie Gate” scandal via Twitter.
– Eric Trump (@EricTrump) November 4, 2020
Meanwhile, Arizona officials made it clear that the markers were distributed because they were the fastest at drying and preventing smudging, but that doesn’t affect the readability or validity of ballot papers. “All these votes are counted,” assured Katie Hobbs.
Trump supporters have not been appeased by this. During the protests on Wednesday, they demanded entry into the electoral authority and access to accounts. Some demonstrators carried guns. Local police officers monitored the protests.
Maricopa County Sheriff’s Deputies are now ready in tactical gear inside the election center to potentially make a move on the protesters and protesters outside as the crowd continues to grow. #azfamily #Arizona pic.twitter.com/XAhvE1hbIK
– Briana Whitney (@BrianaWhitney) November 5, 2020
Further unclear procedure
Developments in Arizona bring back gloomy memories of the election drama in Florida in 2000, when Al Gore was declared the winner, then George W. Bush, and finally the courts had to decide.
At the same time, the result in Arizona could indeed point the way for the further course of the presidential election. If Biden were to remain the winner there, he would only have to win in another member state to get 270 electoral votes. If so, Trump would have to win in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and Nevada in order to become president.
The fact that the result in Arizona is still unclear, although some media companies have already declared Biden the winner, has implications for the further course of the race as well. If the accounts in Nevada or Georgia were to end in Biden’s favor, but before the final outcome in Arizona was determined, hardly anyone would dare to actually give Biden the necessary 270 electoral votes and elect him “president-elect.”
At the moment, one can only hope that the counts in the handful of outstanding states are completed as soon as possible and give a clear picture of a winner. If not, the courts should actually decide.