Place residence

Counting mail-in ballots at Huntington Place lacks chaos in 2020

It was a quiet election day inside and outside Huntington Place in Detroit, where city poll workers counted thousands of mail-in ballots as they sat hundreds evenly spaced folding tables in Hall A.

“Today went pretty well,” said Daniel Baxter, chief operating officer for the Detroit Department of Elections’ mail-in voting and special projects division.

The scene was in stark contrast to the chaos that unfolded during the 2020 election, when hordes of protesters and poll protesters descended on the convention center, demanding that election workers stop counting mail-in ballots and harboring false conspiracy theories about election irregularities.

This year, security has been stepped up at Huntington Place, with metal detectors and a weapons ban. Ballot candidates were also better trained and required to have credentials to enter the vote counting area.

Work on Sunday and Monday count the gears

“Certainly we run into distractions, but you still have hope, hope that you have the opportunity to do your job to make sure democracy works for the citizens of the city of Detroit, and that you don’t have anything to stop you from doing it,” Baxter said.

Being able to pre-process some of the Sunday and Monday mail-in ballots to prepare them for counting has helped speed up tabulations this year, Baxter said.

“We took this opportunity to put ourselves in the shoes of the catbird so that at that time we … could download the results from our system software for transmission to the Detroit Department of Elections,” said he declared.

About 55,000 mail-in ballots had been counted at Huntington Place by 10 p.m., Baxter said.

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“We expect to have the balance of absentee ballots counted before 4 a.m. This is going to take a bit of time because, as you probably know, the law states that we have until 8 a.m. to receive any absentee ballots that arrive at the US Postal Service or Clerk’s Office, so we have 13 satellites as well as 20 drop boxes that we have to pick up ballots from and have them delivered to the City of Detroit Department of Elections, then verify the authenticity of that person’s record.”

Earlier today, former President Donald Trump took to his social media network, Truth Social, writing, “The mail-in voting situation in Detroit is REALLY BAD. People show up at the polls only to be told “sorry, you already voted”. This is happening in large numbers, elsewhere as well. Protest, protest, protest!

The City of Detroit Department of Elections disputed Trump’s claim in a statement, saying election inspectors in some precincts received a message on the screen of the electronic ballot book suggesting that certain ballot numbers had already been issued as mail-in ballots.

A new team of election workers waits to begin counting mail-in votes at Huntington Place in Detroit on November 8, 2022.

Duplicate vote numbers corrected

“This message does not mean that the voter who received an absentee ballot was attempting to vote,” the statement read in part. “This turned out to be a harmless data error. Ballot numbers for precinct voters were generated that were identical to the ballot numbers used for absentee voter ballots. The registry system The electronic voting system recognized the duplicate ballot numbers and issued the error message so that no two ballots would have the same ballot number.

“This situation was resolved by simply distinguishing the ballot numbers for in-person constituency voting from the ballot numbers of absentee voters by adding an additional letter to the constituency ballot numbers. All safeguards preventing a voter from voting (using) more than one ballot have been in place since the polls opened at 7 a.m. and these safeguards remain in place.”

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson took to Twitter shortly after Trump’s post, refuting his claims, writing, “That’s not true. Please do not spread lies to foment or encourage political violence in our state. Or anywhere. Thanks.”

Contact Kristen Shamus: [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus. Subscribe to the free press.