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Challengers swarm absentee vote counting site in Detroit as Trump files lawsuit to stop MI count

Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

“Stop the vote! Stop the vote!”

That was one of the chants outside Detroit’s TCF Center on Wednesday afternoon, where election workers were still hard at work counting the city’s absentee votes.

Some election challengers, most affiliated with various right-wing groups, were denied entry to the room where that’s being done.

City health department officials said it’s because the room reached capacity for COVID-19 restrictions. There were a number of election challengers already inside.

But the group outside made unsubstantiated claims that fraud was going on. Despite a record number of absentee ballots to process and count, some see any counting that continues beyond election night as potentially fraudulent. They sang “God Bless America,” prayed loudly, and otherwise demanded to be let in as the counting continued.

Angela Eilf came as a challenger affiliated with the Michigan Republican Party.

“I want honesty. I want valid votes,” Eilf said. “I want to know that there’s not duplication of votes, I want to know that the military votes are being transposed correctly. I want to know that these votes are valid.”

Trump campaign sues to stop Michigan ballot counting

These demands came as President Donald Trump’s legal team filed a lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims to stop counting immediately. The lawsuit claims partisan poll challengers in Oakland County were not able to do their jobs.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said she’s not surprised by the lawsuit, or efforts to cast doubt on the integrity of the election.

“We’ve seen a lot of frivolous lawsuits over the course of this election cycle, and so I’ll just say that, and my commitment is to making sure, just as we have since the moment we were able to under Michigan law, continue to tabulate every vote absentee or otherwise and ensure every voice is heard in the state of Michigan.“Politics will be politics, but I’m standing with the voters and the election workers throughout the state who’ve been meticulously, transparently tabulating votes.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit was filed just hours before Benson announced the counting is done. Once certified, Michigan’s 16 electoral votes will go to Democrat Joe Biden. But there could still be a legal fight.

Detroit and other state election officials say there’s absolutely nothing untoward going on. They say workers simply need time to count around 178,000 absentee ballots.

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Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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