Gun carrying protesters continue to gather outside US vote counting centres

Armed Trump supporters pose for a photo outside the Maricopa County Recorder's Office where votes are being counted in Phoenix, Arizona

Armed protesters continue to gather outside offices where workers are counting votes that will decide who wins the US presidential election.

The protesters with weapons including shotguns, handguns and military-style semiautomatic rifles, are a small minority of the demonstrators. There have been no reports of anyone getting shot, and the laws in Arizona, Nevada and Michigan – where guns have been seen outside vote-tabulation centres in recent days – allow people to openly carry firearms in public.

But in a nation increasingly inured to weapons at rallies – most often carried by right-wing demonstrators, though also sometimes by left-wing protesters – experts warn that the guns create a dangerous situation that could be seen as intimidation or tip easily into violence.

Supporters of President Donald Trump protest outside the Maricopa County Recorder's Office in Phoenix
Supporters of President Donald Trump, some carrying guns, in Phoenix (AP/Ross D. Franklin)

The armed protesters have shown up at the vote-counting centres in response to groundless accusations from President Donald Trump that the Democrats are trying to steal the election. No serious irregularities have been reported.

Elections officials in several states where Democrat Joe Biden is ahead said the anger outside their doors made them fear for the safety of their employees.

Those carrying weapons insist they are keeping the peace.

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Protests following the U.S. Presidential Election
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Protests following the U.S. Presidential Election
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 4: Election challengers demand to enter to observe the absentee ballots counting but were dined after the room reached capacity during the 2020 general election in Detroit, Michigan on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
An elections worker rubs his head in the closing hours where absentee ballots were processed at the central counting board, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Election challengers yell as they look through the windows of the central counting board as police were helping to keep additional challengers from entering due to overcrowding, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Police block off traffic at the entrance to the central counting board where ballots in the general election are counted in the city at the tcf Center in Detroit, Mich., Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Election challengers, left, wait outside after an election official, right, closed the door to the central counting board, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Detroit. Officials were saying the challenger quotas were met by Republicans, Democrats and Independent observers. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Betsy Camardo, who supports Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden, holds a sign outside the central counting board where ballots in the general election are counted in the city at the TCF Center in Detroit, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Absentee ballots are processed at the central counting board, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Biden supporter Maceo Rhodes, left, debates with Trump supporter Bill Boring outside the central counting board where ballots in the general election are counted in the city at the TCF Center in Detroit, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
People attend a rally calling for every vote to be counted from yesterday's general election near the Detroit Department of Elections building in Detroit, Mich., Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Dorothy Hawkins, from left, Nia Winston and Zinnia Patcas, supporters of Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, look on their phones as news breaks that Wisconsin is called for Biden during a rally calling for very cote to be counted near the Detroit Department of Elections building in Detroit, Mich., Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 04: Pro-President Donald Trump and pro-Joe Biden protesters argue outside the TCF Center as votes continue to be counted on November 4, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. With ballots still being counted in Michigan, the Trump campaign has filed a lawsuit to temporarily stop the counting until the campaign can gain "meaningful access" to the processing. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)
Protesters hold "Count every vote" signs outside of the TCF center where ballots are being counted in downtown Detroit, Michigan on November 4,2020. - Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden on November 4 neared the magic number of 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House with several battleground states still in play, as incumbent President Donald Trump challenged the vote count. (Photo by SETH HERALD / AFP) (Photo by SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather outside TCF Center where absentee ballots for the 2020 general election are being counted, on November 4, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. - Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden on November 4 neared the magic number of 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House with several battleground states still in play, as incumbent President Donald Trump challenged the vote count. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 04: A police officer separates protesters after an altercation erupted outside of the TCF center in Detroit as votes continue to be counted inside on November 4, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. With ballots still being counted in Michigan, the Trump campaign has filed a lawsuit to temporarily stop the counting until the campaign can gain "meaningful access" to the processing. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump gesture and chant slogans as they gather outside the room where absentee ballots for the 2020 general election are being counted at TCF Center on November 4, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. - Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden on November 4 neared the magic number of 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House with several battleground states still in play, as incumbent President Donald Trump challenged the vote count. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)
A police officer gestures to supporters of US President Donald Trump gathered outside the room where absentee ballots for the 2020 general election are being counted at TCF Center on November 4, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. - Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden on November 4 neared the magic number of 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House with several battleground states still in play, as incumbent President Donald Trump challenged the vote count. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump gesture and chant slogans as they gather outside the room where absentee ballots for the 2020 general election are being counted at TCF Center on November 4, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. - Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden on November 4 neared the magic number of 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House with several battleground states still in play, as incumbent President Donald Trump challenged the vote count. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of President Donald Trump pause for prayer during a rally outside the Maricopa County Recorders Office, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Supporters of President Donald Trump rally outside the Maricopa County Recorder's Office, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
President Donald Trump supporters rally, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, outside the Maricopa County Recorders Office in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
President Donald Trump supporters kneel as they rally, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, outside the Maricopa County Recorders Office in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
President Trump supporters gather for a voters rights rally, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, at the Capitol in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 04: President Donald Trump supporters gather to protest the election results at the Maricopa County Elections Department office on November 4, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. The rally was organized after yesterday's vote narrowly turned for Democrats in the presidential and senate races. (Photo by Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 04: President Donald Trump supporters gather to protest the election results at the Maricopa County Elections Department office on November 4, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. The rally was organized after yesterday's vote narrowly turned for Democrats in the presidential and senate races. (Photo by Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 04: President Donald Trump supporters gather to protest the election results at the Maricopa County Elections Department office on November 4, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. The rally was organized after yesterday's vote narrowly turned for Democrats in the presidential and senate races. (Photo by Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images)
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Around 100 of Mr Trump's supporters gathered for a third straight day on Friday in front of the Phoenix elections centre in Arizona, where hundreds of workers are processing and counting ballots.

"Arrest the poll workers!" the crowd chanted, demanding four more years in office for Mr Trump. Sheriff's deputies kept protesters in a "free speech" zone away from the entrance to the building.

In Detroit, dozens of Mr Trump's supporters returned to the streets on Friday outside the city's convention centre, where election workers counted ballots.

"Stop the steal!" the protesters chanted. Some carried signs that read, "Make Elections Fair Again" and "We Love Trump". Police cordoned off streets leading to the building and maintained a close watch on the protest.

Supporters of Donald Trump gather in Detroit, Michigan
Supporters of Donald Trump gather in Detroit, Michigan (Nicole Hester/Ann Arbor News via AP)
The tattoo saying 'We The People' decorates the arm of a Trump supporter as she rests her hand on her gun during a protest in Detroit
The tattoo saying 'We The People' decorates the arm of a Trump supporter as she rests her hand on her gun during a protest in Detroit (AP/David Goldman)

The county treasurer in Detroit, Eric Sabree, said he had closed his office because of threats. In a statement, Mr Sabree said the decision was made "in the interest of the safety of taxpayers and our staff" and because of "credible information" from the sheriff's office.

In October, Michigan's secretary of state tried to ban the open carrying of weapons near polling stations and vote-tallying centres, but the order is tied up in court.

Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel said in a statement when the order was announced: "Michigan voters have the right to vote in person on Election Day free from threat and intimidation. An armed presence at the polls is inconsistent with our notion of a free democracy."

Protesters outside the Clark County Election Department in Nevada
Protesters outside the Clark County Election Department in Nevada (AP Photo/John Locher)

About 100 people gathered on Friday at a vote-tabulation centre in Las Vegas for a pro-Trump demonstration, with at least two men in fatigues seen carrying rifles that hung from shoulder straps. At least 20 uniformed officers standing nearby watched the demonstrators.

In Philadelphia, two men with handguns were arrested on Thursday night near the convention centre where the vote counting was going on.

The men, aged 42 and 61, had driven up from Virginia and did not have permits to carry the weapons in Pennsylvania, police said. A military-style rifle and ammunition were found inside their vehicle, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said. The car had a window sticker for the right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon.

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