With so much attention on the election and tensions riding high, the Detroit ballot-tabulation process was in the eye of the storm on Wednesday as windows to the vote-count room were covered.
Police officers stopped poll challengers from entering a room at the TCF Center in Detroit where ballots were being counted, causing “a chaotic confrontation with protesters,” according to the Detroit News.
Michigan allows any registered voter to observe the count, according to a Bloomberg News story, but they can’t challenge votes. A vote challenger has to be appointed by a political party or other qualified interest group, and can challenge votes and election inspectors.
The law allows a maximum of 134 “challengers” from each party. The numbers were mistakenly allowed to grow to more than 200 each, at which point the attempts were made to turn away additional challengers.
The disagreements began when election workers told GOP challengers the party had hit its limit. That caused some to voice concerns of unfair process and lack of transparency. When Detroit Police officers locked the doors, disgruntled challengers began banging on doors and windows of the rooms in which ballots were being counted. Some election workers then covered portions of the glass with cardboard and poster board.
“We realized this afternoon we were well over the (134 maximum) just in the haste of doing business,” said Lawrence Garcia, the city of Detroit’s corporation counsel and an election commissioner. “Nobody noticed that until it was over 200 for each party, and at that point, we said we better stop admitting people until they leave and we’re under the 134 number. That’s the rules. We have to play by them.”
He said the windows were covered because people were taking photos and videotaping, which is not allowed, though other windows were left open.