PHOENIX -- Right-wing conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones showed up at the Maricopa County Elections Department Thursday night to rally with supporters of President Donald Trump to push baseless claims of voter fraud and assert that “globalists” were trying to “steal the election.”
Jones spoke to the crowd claiming that “globalists” and Bill Gates would be defeated along with George Soros echoing a conspiracy theory that has been boosted by the president and his supporters that has often been tied to anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant views.
The radio host showed up unexpectedly, surprising many in the crowd who rushed toward him as he walked up to the Elections Department, where protests began Wednesday night.
“They have awoken the sleeping giant,” Jones said, adding that if “the globalists” continued to try to steal the election they would incite “another 1776.”
The crowd eventually brought a flatbed truck up for Jones to stand on to speak to the crowd with a bullhorn.
Jones said that he would be returning to the Maricopa County Elections Department Friday night, as well.
Protesters have been pushing conspiracy theories and misinformation since Wednesday, including an already debunked claim that Sharpies are disqualifying Republican votes. Arizona’s Attorney General Mark Brnovich released a statement Thursday stating that Sharpies did not lead to voter disenfranchisement.
The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office said Sharpies were given to voters at polling places this year because of new voting machines. While the old voting machines — which had been in use since 1996 — could not read Sharpies and many other commercially available permanent markers, the new machines perform better with felt-tip markers. The new machines can read between 6,000 and 8,000 ballots an hour, about twice as many as the old machines.
Ink from Sharpies dries faster than ink from traditional ballpoint pens, and the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office advised the use of the markers in Maricopa County.
Conservative extremists were present at the protests Wednesday and Thursday night, including members of the anti-government Three Percenters and QAnon. At one point Wednesday night, the crowd erupted into a chant of “Pizzagate” when a pizza arrived, referring the baseless conspiracy theory about a child sex ring operated out of a pizzeria in Washington D.C.
As Jones walked away, many shouted that he was their “hero” and one young man yelled “thank you for waking me up Alex!”
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy is a reporter for Arizona Mirror.