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Protesters gather outside Maricopa County Elections Department

(KTAR News Photo/Gabriel Gamino)

PHOENIX – Several hundred protesters gathered outside of the Maricopa County Elections Office on Wednesday night as the votes from the 2020 elections continued to be counted.

The group had gathered around 7:30 p.m. and attempted to get inside the office, according to ABC15.

Protesters could be heard chanting “count those votes” and chastising Fox News Channel for calling Arizona for Democratic candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday, which was the first network to make that call. The crowd also voiced concerns over if ballots filled out with permanent marker were being counted.

Arizona elections officials had dismissed those fears earlier in the day, saying that poll workers would not give voters pens that would invalidate ballots.

“Everyone should want all the votes to be counted, whether they were mailed or cast in person,” Clint Hickman, the GOP chair of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, and Democratic Supervisor Steve Gallardo said in a statement.

“An accurate vote takes time. … This is evidence of democracy, not fraud,” they said.

Around 9:45 p.m., Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputies could be seen wearing tactical gear as the crowd continued to grow outside of the elections office.

Around 10:30 p.m., the Maricopa County Elections Department had closed the building over concerns about unrest from the crowds outside the building.

In a tweet, the department said that votes would continue to be counted.

The Associated Press called Arizona, a battleground state, in favor of Biden early Wednesday morning after an analysis of ballots cast statewide concluded there were not enough outstanding to allow incumbent President Donald Trump to catch up.

As of 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Biden maintained a lead over Trump in Arizona by approximately 80,000 votes, but nearly 400,000 votes in Maricopa County were still left to be counted.

Arizona’s 11 electoral votes could have a hand in deciding the election, as other states like Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada are also still counting votes to determine the presidential winner.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gabriel Gamino and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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