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Arizona Trump Voters React To The President's Loss

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

President Trump refuses to concede defeat and insists falsely that he has won reelection. While supporters of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris celebrated in streets across the nation, many Trump supporters voiced anger, sorrow, disbelief. And some are making baseless allegations of fraud, allegations that echo the president's own groundless charges. Here's NPR's Eric Westervelt in Phoenix.

ERIC WESTERVELT, BYLINE: A few thousand Trump supporters gathered near the state Capitol building in downtown Phoenix Saturday, demanding a do-over, not just of the state's presidential election but of the entire national vote. Trump banners waved overhead, some depicting him as an action hero saving America from socialism. Many backers cite a string of conspiracy theories about election deception, which, in fact, have already been debunked.

ROD SUAVE: I will never accept Biden-Harris as my president - not with this kind of cloud hanging over it.

WESTERVELT: That's Trump supporter Rod Suave, who alleges the entire vote was marred by deception and manipulation.

SUAVE: It's all fraud. Audit it all. I'll guarantee you if you audit all these states, these swing states - actually went in there and audited and threw out all the dead people that voted and everything else, Trump wouldn't be losing, just like he wasn't losing on election night. This is the biggest fraud in America.

WESTERVELT: But there is no evidence of any wide-scale election fraud. And the vote already is audited by county and state election officials before it's certified. And the close vote in several states may trigger recounts. Still, many here say they are convinced that Democrats, the media and big tech have all conspired to steal the vote from President Trump. A Trump backer calling herself Madonna didn't want her full name used, saying she doesn't trust the media.

MADONNA: The media has called this election prematurely. They don't have a right to. We the people make that decision, and we the people deserve the truth - clean and fair elections.

WESTERVELT: So to you, the count isn't over; the election isn't over.

MADONNA: Absolutely not.

WESTERVELT: Many in the crowd chanted four more years and stop the steal.

(CHEERING)

WESTERVELT: Others sang hymns and walked slowly around the rally, praying.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

WESTERVELT: So-called proof of a conspiracy to many here includes the fact that political polling was once again off the mark and the expanded use of mail-in voting. To Jeff Johns from Scottsdale, this year's expansion of mail-in voting is itself fishy.

JEFF JOHNS: Simply the fact that governors sent out universal ballots to everybody for the first time shows a propensity to cheat in order to harvest more Democratic votes. So just - that alone is fraudulent.

WESTERVELT: In fact, there's no evidence of widespread mail-in voting fraud. And ballots were not sent to everybody. This year, due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic, California, Nevada, New Jersey and Vermont sent all registered voters mail-in ballots, joining Oregon, Colorado and Washington state, who've used mail-in balloting safely and effectively for years. Utah and Hawaii also went to mail-in voting more recently.

The protest was largely peaceful, though the mood grew tense when two elderly Biden supporters entered the square carrying Black Lives Matter signs. A pro-Trump demonstrator told the couple they should be, quote, "ashamed" and demanded to know who paid them to support the Democrat. Meantime, some Biden supporters trolled the rally, driving past waving Biden-Harris signs and yelling.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAR HORNS HONKING)

WESTERVELT: There were far more guns than masks at the rally, despite the resurgent coronavirus. Many openly displayed handguns and semiautomatic rifles. Several Trump supporters urged me to remove my face mask, insisting the pandemic, like the outcome of the election, was, quote, "just another hoax."

Eric Westervelt, NPR News, Phoenix. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.