Effort to shutdown counting of Detroit votes backfires
A video taken by Abby Clark of Lansing, Michigan, a nonpartisan election challenger, contradicts Republican claims that party challengers were shut out from the vote counting process in Detroit’s TCF Center. At the moment the doors were closed to the counting area, an election official can be heard in the video announcing that, “Right now, we are at 258 Democratic, 227 Republican and 75 non-partisan,” to people gathered outside. “So at this point, we are not allowing any more affiliations to the Democratic party or the Republican party and we only have spots for about 52 more people in non-partisan groups.”
Both Republicans and Democrats had more challengers in the room than the 134 counting tables, at which each party was allowed one challenger. The ability to simultaneously monitor every single counting table, with additional challengers in reserve, definitionally constitutes meaningful access to the process.
However, the number of challengers from each party wasn’t initially an issue at the TCF center, where the largest number of absentee votes from Black residents in the state was being counted. “Republican challengers actually outnumbered Democratic and independent observers during the first night of counting,” said Kate Mason, the Michigan United Election Protection Coordinator, who was in the counting room. “During the next day, there were always literally hundreds of Republican challengers in the counting room. Claims otherwise are totally false.”
In truth, election officials eventually had to limit access to the counting room because it had reached capacity, which was limited due to COVID-19 safety precautions.
“Clearly, this has nothing to do with election oversight, and everything to do with limiting the right of Black people in the city of Detroit to have their votes counted,” said Mason. “Republican challengers were attempting to contest as many ballots as possible in the one place with the greatest number of minority voters. This was an attempt at voter suppression, plain and simple.”