WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Police investigate alleged plot against vote-counting center in Philadelphia. Local law enforcement officials received a tip on Thursday that armed men from Virginia traveling in a Hummer threatened to attack the Philadelphia Convention Center, local ABC station WPVI reports. Election workers there are still counting votes that could soon determine who wins the state and the presidency. Just hours earlier, President Donald Trump held a press conference at the White House where he falsely claimed that “illegal votes” were being counted in battleground states. According to WPVI, police recovered a weapon and two men were taken into custody, though it was unclear how they were connected to the alleged plot. WPVI and two reporters from The Philadelphia Inquirer noted that a Hummer parked downtown believed to be connected to the men had a decal for the far-right conspiracy movement QAnon, as did a hat spotted on the dashboard. A Fox News reporter cited police sources as saying the FBI had taken over the investigation.
Pro-Trump protesters again fan out in cities amid ongoing vote counting. For the second straight day, protesters gathered in Phoenix to echo the president’s unfounded voter fraud claims. In the afternoon, a number of demonstrators came armed with handguns or assault-style rifles. One participant, who showed a New York Times reporter his concealed firearm, noted: “I absolutely believe Donald Trump won Arizona and won the country.” Another man carrying two rifles made clear that his participation was based on his fear of large-scale gun confiscation under a Biden presidency: “I’m here to tell the left there’s no way in hell they’re taking my guns.” On Thursday night, a crowd including boogaloo believers, men with long guns, and the far-right conspiracist Alex Jones assembled outside the Maricopa County election center where votes were being counted. Other demonstrations across the country included a “Stop the Steal” event in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and one in Las Vegas, where protesters — many of them armed — congregated outside the Clark County election headquarters as officials continued tabulating votes.
Facebook banned a group over election disinformation and concerns about inciting violence. The “Stop the Steal” page had attracted over 350,000 members in just one day and was spreading baseless accusations about a Democratic plot to steal the election before Facebook shut it down. “The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group,” Facebook said. A sharp rise in “violence and incitement trends.” That’s what the company has seen in a private tool it uses to track dangerous rhetoric on the site, according to a BuzzFeed News report. An analysis of user search terms and hashtags revealed that dangerous incitement trends have increased 45 percent in the last five days.
While misinformation has been rampant since, intimidation during voting was minimal. Many experts warned about the threat of violence at the polls, but little chaos materialized on Election Day. SeeSay2020, a crowdsourced map of voter suppression incidents, showed fewer than 200 reports of intimidation over the course of early voting through Election Day, a tally consistent with past years. Ominous events that did occur on Tuesday: In North Carolina, an armed man was arrested and charged with an additional count of trespassing for turning up at a voting site three times despite being banned. In Utah, a man was arrested for shooting off his gun and hurling death threats at people attending a pro-Trump rally.
Nearly 2 million — how many guns were sold in the month before the election. That represents a 67 percent increase from the previous October. [The Trace]