Detroit completes 80,000 absentee ballot count, contrast to 2020 election chaos

Election officials in Detroit completed counting more than 80,000 absentee ballots before sunrise Wednesday, a stark contrast from the chaotic 2020 tally.

Detroit Elections Director Daniel Baxter said the city had completed a seamless three-day tallying process that counted nearly half of all the city’s 165,000 ballots submitted by the close of polls on Election Day.

“It was a good day today in the City of Detroit,” Baxter said after he wrapped up a 24-hour shift, according to The Detroit News.

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A poll challenger oversees election inspectors at the Huntington Place convention center on Nov. 8, 2022, in Detroit.
(Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

An estimated 30% of Detroit’s population voted, which was reportedly more than officials expected but less than the 41% turnout the city saw during the 2018 midterm elections.

Though voting was down with roughly 77,000 people voting in-person on Election Day, the number of mail-in ballots was double the number of absented ballots submitted in 2018, the local publication reported.

City officials took precautions in the lead up to Election Day to ensure the chaos that unfolded during the 2020 general election was not repeated this election cycle.

Officials made sure ballots were counted in a room in the convention center traditionally used to tally votes, but which was occupied in 2020 with COVID-patient overflow. The room does not have windows for viewers to watch from.

Some 158 poll observers from each party were still permitted to watch the ballot count, though this time people were given specific stations to observe from and were not permitted to roam the room and disturb those tallying ballots.

A voter casts a ballot at a polling station in Detroit March 10, 2020.
(Erin Kirkland/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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The reportedly smooth tallying process came despite former President Trump’s calls Tuesday for his supporters to “protest, protest, protest.”

“The Absentee Ballot situation in Detroit is REALLY BAD,” he wrote on his social media platform. “People are showing up to Vote only to be told, ‘sorry, you have already voted.’ This is happening in large numbers, elsewhere as well. Protest, Protest, Protest.”

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson responded to Trump’s comments on Twitter and said, “This isn’t true.”

“Please don’t spread lies to foment or encourage political violence in our state. Or anywhere. Thanks,” she added.

Volunteers wearing protective masks process absentee ballots for the 2020 presidential election at the TCF Center in Detroit Nov. 4, 2020.
(Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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City officials said the issue Trump was referring to stemmed from an error that was generated after ballot numbers for in-person voters were generating duplicate numbers previously generated on absentee ballots.

The system that checked voter registration and absentee ballot statuses caught the duplication and flagged it as an error to ensure multiple ballots were not submitted. The issue was reportedly solved by 9:30 a.m., and no one was prevented from voting or allowed to vote twice.