Inside the accusations of election fraud in the city of Detroit
Although the press has called the election for former Vice President & democratic nominee Joe Biden, current U.S. President Donald Trump and GOP members are challenging the results. Trump has tweeted plans to sue several key swing states including Michigan, a swing state worth sixteen electoral votes.
In 2016, Michigan went to Donald Trump with a margin of votes. The media projected the state as responsible for Trump’s win, as they tipped him to the 270 electoral votes he needed to secure the White House. There was a particular focus on Macomb County, a blue-collar area of Michigan that went red instead of blue. MLive indicated Macomb’s flip from blue to red was due to “a fairly seismic shift” in Detroit suburbs.
In 2020, all eyes were on the city of Detroit, where ballots have been slow to come in. Detroit’s slow count has been due to an increased number of absentee ballots in Michigan. After a long count, Michigan was called for Joe Biden by a margin of over 40,000 votes, wider than the margin between Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Before the count was decided, Michigan was projected red. Then, after a surge of absentee votes were counted, Michigan flipped blue. However, some are questioning the results after poll watchers reported voting irregularities in Detroit. What does this mean for the election count? Let’s take a look.
Absentee ballots in Michigan
Michigan’s large number of absentee ballots were due to COVID-19, but also because of a 2018 ballot proposal that loosened restrictions on voting. Proposition 3, overwhelmingly approved by Michigan voters, allows same-day voter registration and no-reason absentee ballots. Due to the pandemic, many Michiganders voted by mail, more than ever in the state’s history.
While most voters trusted the process would be secure, critics argued the proposition would lead to increased voter fraud per The Detroit Free Press. Now, in 2020, poll workers have sent affidavits to Lansing, Michigan’s capital, alleging voter fraud. There is even a lawsuit underway demanding an audit or a new election.
Inside the accusations
Elizabeth Harrington, a GOP spokesperson, tweeted a thread of affidavits sent to Lansing by poll watchers, alleging they were instructed to tamper with voter dates so they would be counted. One affidavit comes from Jesse Jacob, a City of Detroit employee, who under penalty of perjury, reported widespread poll fraud.
“I was instructed by my supervisor to adjust the mailing date of these absentee ballot packages to be dated earlier than they were actually sent. The supervisor was making announcements for all workers to engage in this practice,” she claimed. She also alleged supervisors told voters who to vote for explicitly coaching them to vote for Joe Biden.
Jacob also alleged poll supervisors ignored Michigan’s law requiring voters to have a photo ID when they arrive at the polls.
Under Harrington’s tweet, Twitter placed a notification saying her tweet had “disputed information”. Twitter’s advisory linked to a statement, along with articles asserting election fraud is exceedingly rare in the U.S.
Citing AP & Reuters, Twitter claims “Officials and experts warn that the most interference in US elections, whether from foreign or domestic players, comes in the form of misinformation campaigns, many of which are intended to create distrust in the US’s electoral process.”
Constantino vs. Detroit
The Great Lakes Justice Center (GLJC) filed an action in Wayne County on behalf of Cheryl Constantino of Harper Woods and Edward McCall of Northville. The lawsuit alleges a plethora of illegal voter activity. The allegations mirror Jacob’s claims and also claim ballots were counted even if the voter didn’t appear on election rolls, instructed election workers not to verify signatures, and a ton of other fraudulent practices.
“This type of widespread fraud in the counting and processing of voter ballots cannot be allowed to stand. Michigan citizens are entitled to know that their elections are conducted in a fair and legal manner and that every legal vote is properly counted. Such rampant fraud cannot be undone.”
The GLJC is seeking a new vote in Wayne County, where Detroit is, due to their allegations of widespread election tampering.
Response from Michigan officials
Election fraud is a serious crime which can lead to a criminal conviction & jail time. In September, Michigan’s attorney general Dana Nessel warned voters not to attempt to vote twice after Donald Trump tweeted that Republicans should attempt to vote twice. “Let me be perfectly clear: voting twice is illegal, no matter who tells you do to it. The president’s idea is a great one for people looking to go to jail.”
On October 3, Nessel prosecuted two candidates for voter intimidation, a type of election fraud. She charged Jack Burkman, 54, and Jacob Wohl, 22 for allegedly orchestrating a series of robocalls “aimed at suppressing the vote in the November general election” per the State of Michigan’s website. They each have four counts related to the robocalls, including conspiracy and using a computer to violate election law.
Statement from the former long time Michigan Director of Elections, Chris Thomas:
"Today I was saddened to see unfounded allegations being made about the manner in which clerical errors were handled by the Detroit absent voter counting board.
— Steven C. Liedel (@SCLiedel) November 6, 2020
Michigan election official Chris Thomas said he was “saddened to see unfounded allegations being made about the manner in which clerical errors were handled by the Detroit absent voter counting board”. Responding to the allegations against him as an election supervisor, “The accusations are wrong and reveal the person making them doesn’t know Michigan’s election process.”
In an interview with Local 4 Detroit, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer stated she believes the votes were valid as they were counted. “I think it is time to embrace the will of the people. There has not been any evidence of anything that would undermine the validity of this election. And it is time to move forward.”