Outside the vote tally room today at TCF Center in Detroit, a brouhaha unfolded after election officials notified scores of Republican and Democratic challengers that they could not reenter the room because of over-capacity limitations, according to a Detroit Free Press article.
Individuals converged outside the ballot counting area banging on the doors and windows, yelling, “Let us in” and “Stop the count,” The Free Press reported while about six tables remained counting ballots.
Police were involved and pushed back crowds as they justified the need to be allowed in the vote-counting arena. Republicans yelled that they were unfairly being kept out, according to the article, but Democratic challengers responded that the accusations were false because they had to stay outside, also.
As of 2 p.m. today, election officials said 16,000 absentee ballots were not yet counted, according to the article. By 4 p.m., that number shrunk “significantly,” the article read, and only six tables inside the TCF Center were continuing to count ballots.
Per election rules, each group contesting the vote can have 134 challenges. Even though election officials say each party is permitted to have 134 poll watchers, some today feel the balance is unequal and Democrats have more.
As of around 5 p.m. today, roughly 400 challengers were walking around the room among poll workers counting the 25,000 absentee ballots from Detroiters, according to the report.
That makes up: 134 Republican challengers; 134 Democratic challengers and 134 nonpartisan challengers, including groups like the ACLU and the League of Women voters, the article said.Republicans said the process is unfairly allowing more Democratic-leaning challengers in than Republicans.
Inside TCF, Republican poll watchers Gina Paschke and Ulrike Sherer of Grosse Pointe Farms said they are attempting to keep an eye on several tables where Detroit votes are being counted, and are “overwhelmed.”
Sherer said she has personally challenged about 100 ballots since she started poll watching Tuesday, some of which were from voters whose records showed they registered to vote in 1900, but whose birthday was in 1921, according to the article.
“So that’s registering to vote in 1900, 21 years before you’re born,” Sherer told The Free Press.
Democrats disagree with the Republican challengers.
Democratic poll challengers Danielle Cadoret, a Detroit-based attorney from Woodhaven, and Jacob Kahn, a Wayne State University law student, disagreed with Republicans who said that they were far fewer than their Democrat counterparts inside.
“It really shocks the conscious to see what’s going on here. And they have attorneys with the Michigan GOP running around telling people you have to stop counting or you have (to) note every single ballot that there’s a challenge because we filed a lawsuit.”
After many challengers came to the Detroit vote-counting process Wednesday afternoon, election officials closed the doors to any new people seeking to monitor the historic vote tally, the article reported.
Within hours of Democratic nominee Joe Biden taking the forefront in Michigan, over 100 challengers came to the TCF Center downtown, making security concerned as more than 200 challengers were already on the floor, monitoring poll workers as they counted the absentee votes that could make or break the election, the article read.
“We have exceeded the amount of challengers,” an election worker told more than two dozen people who arrived at 1 p.m. to monitor the process, according to the article. “We are not allowing any more challengers in at this time.”
Attorney Timothy Griffin, a Republican challenger from Virginia who has been at the TCF all day and was here overnight, told The Detroit Free Press the system is slanted.
“This whole thing is under suspicion,” said Griffin, who is with a group called the Election Integrity Fund. “It’s not equal …. It’s just not fair.”
Meanwhile, Democratic challengers said they were showing up to make sure things were fair.
In a statement, Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey said — “We will not allow anyone to distract us from the job at hand. Our charge is to remain calm, focused and deliberate as we continue the task at hand.”
In addition, the Detroit Department of Elections has about 1200 more ballots to count tonight.