Anxiety, suspicion exacerbate US post-election uncertainty


Weary from one of the most bruising US presidential races in modern times, Republican and Democratic voters alike were in a state of high anxiety on Wednesday with the election outcome still unsettled.

President Donald Trump's false declaration of victory in the early hours of Wednesday, as ballot counting continued in several pivotal states, roiled supporters of Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Biden supporters expressed heightened fears the Republican incumbent might not accept the election result if he were to lose. Many in Trump's voter base, meanwhile, echoed his unsubstantiated allegations of widespread electoral tampering.

In Detroit, about 30 observers, mostly Republicans, were barred from entering a vote-counting hall by election officials who cited indoor capacity restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Police were called to enforce the decision.

Many of those excluded stood outside the hall voicing their protest and singing "God Bless America" while a second group of Republican observers who were denied entry held a prayer circle nearby. They also broke into chants of "stop the vote" and "stop the count."

CNN and Edison Research later declared Biden the winner in Michigan.

Legal experts have said the election outcome could become bogged down in state-by-state litigation over a host of issues, including whether late-arriving ballots can be counted.

Pollsters in the US have also been coming in for criticism.

Many of the political opinion poll companies got it wrong again, with several underestimating the support for President Trump.

Bernd Debusmann Junior, a Washington-based freelance journalist and former deputy editor of Arabian Business, told the Dubai Eye 103.8 Business Breakfast show that they failed to understand the voters.

Activists demanding that vote counts proceed unimpeded rallied in several cities, including Oakland, California; Atlanta; Detroit; and New York City.

Hundreds of protesters waving American flags and signs that read, "Count every vote, every vote counts," demonstrated peacefully at Washington Square Park after marching through midtown Manhattan.

"It's very important that we make sure that our democracy is maintained," Meira Harris, 26, a social work student. "This election has provoked so much anxiety."

City police posted pictures on social media of debris fires in lower Manhattan that they said were set by protesters. They said at least 20 people were arrested, accused of blocking traffic, disorderly conduct and similar offences.

US officials said they have kept a wary eye on right-wing militias, worried that Trump's allegations of ballot fraud could bring heavily armed groups out onto the streets. So far, they appeared to be keeping a low profile.

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