Republicans Self Identified as Poll Challengers Protest at Detroit’s TCF Center

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Image credit: Laura Herberg/WDET

Trump supporters gathered in front of the vote counting center, chanting “stop the vote.” Counter protesters gathered shortly thereafter chanting “count every vote.”

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This afternoon a crowd began gathering outside the TCF Center, the building where absentee ballots are being counted in Detroit, and chanting “stop the vote” while a parade float for President Trump circled the block.

A group of mostly Republican protestors gathered in front of the TCF Center, where Detroit absentee ballots are being processed, demanding to be let in and chanting "stop the count."Laura Herberg/WDET
Laura Herberg/WDET

A group of mostly Republican protestors gathered in front of the TCF Center, where Detroit absentee ballots are being processed, demanding to be let in and chanting “stop the count.”

The mostly Republican protesters showed up shortly after President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign filed a lawsuit claiming that Republican challengers were not being given adequate access to observe the vote-counting process. The suit seeks to halt the absentee counting process.

Many of the protesters said they showed up in hopes of becoming Republican challengers, but they were not being allowed in. Election staff said they were not letting in Republican or Democratic challengers because they had reached capacity.

Republican Ann Kolinksy was let inside the building, but not the area where the count is in progress. “I switched to bipartisan to try to get in because they said there were 70 seats open. And when we got down there they wouldn’t let anyone down there that was bipartisan in,” says Kolinsky.

WDET witnessed nonpartisan challengers being let into the counting area shortly after speaking with Kolinksy. But other challengers were marooned outside the basement room where the absentee counting process takes place. They stood behind partially boarded up windows, at one point pounding on them.

Mohamed Qasim is a Democractic challenger who says he was at TCF Center from 4:30 a.m. this morning until 3 p.m. He says the Republican challengers were present in the count area and using every opportunity they had to slow down the ballot counting process.

There was an instance where they weren’t abiding by the rules, they were talking directly to the poll workers which they weren’t allowed to,” says Qasim, “So, all this nonsense saying they weren’t allowed in, that wasn’t true.”

First-time Democratic poll challenger, Heather Mourer of Highland Park, says Republicans seemed intent on slowing down the counting process. “We started hearing the GOP challengers come around and instruct each other to stand at the table to challenge every single military vote that came through and just challenge everyone individually to stop every single one. Don’t let them be counted,” says Mourer. 

That didn’t sit right with her. 

I think for those of us who haven’t done this before, it was pretty jarring to hear, especially from the party that’s supposed to be all about supporting the troops,” Mourer said.

Not long after the protest began, counter-protestors showed up holding signs and chanting “count every vote” at the same time that Trump’s supporters chanted “stop the vote.”

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Laura Herberg, Reporter

Laura Herberg is a Reporter for 101.9 WDET, telling the stories about people inhabiting the Detroit region and the issues that affect us here. She is a proud homeowner in Highland Park, Mich. Follow @HerbergRadio

2020 Voter Information Center

This post is a part of 2020 Voter Information Center.

2020's federal, state and local elections are unprecedented in many ways, most significantly the expected surge in absentee voting in Michigan due to the coronavirus pandemic. 101.9 WDET is committed to offering trusted, accurate information on voting, ballot access and key issues. 

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