Inside Detroit's counting location at the TCF Center. Photo by Montez Miller.
Inside Detroit's counting location at the TCF Center. Photo by Montez Miller.

Detroit prepared for a record-breaking Election Day, and state leaders are confident in its results.

DETROIT—Michigan election officials are confident in the fairness, totality, and accuracy of the vote count in Detroit. Despite disruptions from supporters of President Donald Trump, tabulators at the TCF Center worked diligently and professionally, election observers told The ‘Gander.

But the state’s robust system is about more than just those election workers, and exists to validate and support the accuracy of Detroit’s count.

Here are three ways the integrity of the count is maintained. 

Democratic Michigan Secretary of State candidate Jocelyn Benson waits to be introduced during a campaign rally, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

A Proactive Partnership

Before the election even began, Detroit was taking steps to mitigate possible Election Day problems. Working with the Secretary of State’s office, City Clerk Janice Winfrey helped strengthen processes and procedures in Detroit.

“Partnerships are critical to running smooth, secure elections and the additional staff, resources and support from the city, county and state will further strengthen our election system as we navigate this unprecedented time,” Winfrey said in a news release.

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Detroit has had election issues in the past that while they didn’t impact the count did pose unnecessary roadblocks to the city’s predominantly Democratic voters. Being keenly aware of how important an accurate and reliable 2020 election would be, Detroit’s proactive measures didn’t end at coordinating with the Secretary of State.

Mayor Mike Duggan diverted a vast majority of the city’s resources in the days following the election to support the counting process to provide speed, security and accuracy to election workers where that assistance could be useful. 

Ballots being counted in the TCF Center in Detroit. Photo by Montez Miller.

A System of Checks and Balances

The most important check on any election is the ability to verify the ballots were correctly tabulated, and Michigan’s system is designed to make this process easier, explained Washtenaw County Clerk Lawrence Kestenbaum.

“All votes, in every part of the state, are cast on optical scan paper ballots, which can be checked and recounted,” he told The ‘Gander.  “In past recounts, notably the 2016 recount of the presidential vote, hand counting ballots demonstrated that the tabulations were extremely accurate.”

Ballots are also kept for years, he explained, to ensure the legitimacy of each election in the future. But that isn’t the only check on the process.

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Election challengers and election observers are sent from political parties, the American Civil Liberties Union and other interested organizations to observe conduct at the polls and at counting boards to make sure election rules are being followed to the letter.

“From the moment the polls opened yesterday when our poll workers and election workers were able to begin tabulating ballots up until now, they have been following every rule, meticulously counting every vote, doing so transparently,” Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Wednesday night. “I’m very confident in our work, I’m very confident in our processes and I’m very confident we’re going to continue counting the vote until every vote is counted in Michigan.”

Election observers working at TCF Center’s counting room. Photo by Franz Knight.

A Transparent Process

Those observers and challengers also demonstrate how open and transparent the counting process is in Michigan.

“I’m proud of how transparent and secure our process has been,” said Benson. “I know that the truth is on our side here.”

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When the Trump campaign attempted to stop the counting of Michigan ballots, one reason the lawsuit was thrown out of court by Judge Cynthia Stephens is that the campaign was unable to substantiate it’s claims of lacking access.

“On this factual record I have no basis to find there is a substantial likelihood of success on the merits,” Stephens said. “We will adjourn this matter where I believe everyone here seeks to have a full and fair election process.”