Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the United States – As thousands of people are rallying across the United States to celebrate the projected victory of Democrat Joe Biden, some of President Donald Trump’s staunchest supporters are insisting that the presidential contest is not over yet.
Samuel Battle, 19, accused the Democratic Party of trying to steal the election, which has been one of the most divisive in recent memory and which drew record numbers of voters across the country despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“I don’t think it’s over yet,” said Battle, who was among a small group of vocal Trump backers that had gathered in downtown Philadelphia opposite a much-larger, jubilant crowd celebrating Biden’s projected win.
Hours earlier, the Associated Press said Biden was projected to secure 290 Electoral College votes, clinching his bid for the White House, after a time-consuming vote count that is still under way in some key states.
Philadelphia was key to Biden’s path to victory, with AP saying earlier on Saturday that the former US vice president had secured a win in the battleground state.
Trump has sowed doubt over the US electoral process, accusing Democrats of engaging in widespread voter fraud – an accusation that experts and elections officials in several states have rejected as baseless.
“The simple fact is this election is far from over,” the Republican president said in a statement shortly after AP made its projection of a Biden victory, pointing to the legal challenges his campaign has filed in several states to dispute the results.
Battle echoed Trump’s claims, saying he believed the final election result would ultimately be decided in the US’s top court.
“We’re just waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on it, and when they do, they’re going to rule in Trump’s favour,” he told Al Jazeera, without going into specifics about what exactly the court would be ruling on.
‘I ain’t buying it’
Another Trump supporter at the rally in Philadelphia, Charlie, who did not give Al Jazeera his last name because he said he is employed by “a liberal company”, said he does not believe Trump lost the election.
“I don’t care what the media says,” he said. “I ain’t buying it and that’s why I’m standing here today.”
Charlie said he and his wife could not vote because their absentee ballots did not arrive on time. “We’re libertarians but we wanted to support Trump,” he said. “We were pretty much going with Trump to go against Biden.”
The president’s supporters have also held rallies in Wisconsin, where the Trump campaign has said it intends to demand a recount; in Arizona, where some believe the presidential race remains too close to call, and in Georgia, where election officials also say a recount is going to be ordered.
Several Trump supporters, some of them carrying firearms, also gathered outside the state capitol building in Pennsylvania, which is still counting ballots in the tightly contested race.
Two armed men were arrested earlier this week in Philadelphia, local media reported, after police said they received a tip about an alleged plot to attack a convention centre where votes were being tabulated.
In New York City, 36-year-old Trump supporter Tonye-Dmitria Vickers held up a sign reading, “F*** Biden – He Cheated”.
“I am gay, a former Democrat, Black, a former Navy SEAL and have a degree in political science from Howard University,” he told Al Jazeera, saying he supports Trump because “under him, the African-American unemployment rate was its lowest in US history”.
Another Trump supporter, 48-year-old Dora Ellis, said the president has done a lot to support peace in the world. “Biden voted for every single bombing and every single war. He’s a hawk,” she said.
“Can [Trump] be rude? Yes, he’s not always diplomatic. But is he racist or [a] xenophobe? Absolutely not.”
Earlier on Saturday, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani held a news conference just outside of Philadelphia to explain the campaign’s ongoing litigation efforts. US media outlets made their Biden win projections just before Giuliani was set to speak.
“It’s not done yet,” Daren Suter, a Pennsylvania Trump supporter who attended the news conference, told Al Jazeera.
“Investigations are going to have to take place. There’s too many examples of tampering with the ballots, that kind of stuff, in Philly especially. And Trump knew all this; Trump knew this was going to happen.”
Al Jazeera’s Radmilla Suleymanova contributed to this report from New York City.