How Clinton Lost 5 in Dearborn. Observations of the recount in Detroit Part 2

Part 1 is here. 

Most of my day as an observer went well. I started out in the smaller room in Cobo Center. At the end of the first two precincts, it was about 2 and I went out to my car for a phone call and a sip of my (now cold) coffee.

I then received a text message from one of our team members at, with the following screenshot. She asked me to check it out:

I told her, I hadn’t heard anything, but that I was in the side room and I would go into the main room after I went back in.

The main room was busier than the other, I could see some lawyers, but I didn’t notice anything out of place. I noticed a table without a Stein/Clinton observer, and sat down, figuring that I would keep an eye/ear out for what else was going on in the room.

There’s nothing to add from part 1 regarding the first table in the large room. When we ended that precinct, I left the table since it took so long to finalize a precinct and start a new one. Things got interesting at the last table where I was placed.

I was put with Trump and Clinton Observer. Dearborn Precinct 45. This was a small absentee ballot precinct with only 203 votes. The workers were counting ballots while Trump lawyers making lots of noise. At one point one worker was shushing the lawyers. One miscounted and the overall total for each candidate did not reconcile to the amount of total ballots that they originally counted.

I asked them to recount it and they figured their error and corrected it. Trump observer went to Trump lawyers. They objected to recount, because supposedly the workers weren’t allowed to count again.

At one point, I was shouting for a lawyer from Clinton or Stein’s campaign in the main Cobo hall-none came. The county attorney came by and was frustrated that they were wasting his time. A crowd had gathered around the table and one of the lawyers said that it was ok, they would drop their challenge. The County lawyer disappeared and the crowd dwindled as the workers put the final touches on their paperwork and start their final precinct.

After about 5 minutes, the lawyers came back and said that they changed their mind and wanted to challenge the results. A woman from the State came and agreed and said we are not supposed to reconcile the ballots. She insisted that the original faulty count be put on their paperwork and not the second (accurate) count. The Stein representatives were in agreement of the rule even though they disagreed with it. I challenged that order and said that the proper count should be kept.

The upshot was that the accurate recount took one vote from the undervotes and put it in for Clinton. The inaccurate recount numbers subtracted 5 from Clinton.

The bigger upshot is that the supposed rules for the recount didn’t allow for any reconciliation and in fact blocked the ability of the election workers to get an accurate count.

This was not truly a recount. It raised more questions than it answered. The ballots in over a third of the precincts in Detroit did not match the totals that were read by the reader. So if a reader failed to record a vote/ballot, that precinct was automatically rejected from the recount. We were unable to look at that precinct, nor determine the cause of the discrepancy.

At the same time there was one precinct in Detroit that had hundreds of less ballots in it that it was supposed to. I confirmed this with one of the Stein organizers. There are three reasons for this, the ballots were stolen, they were misplaced, or someone fed the ballots through the reader multiple times. This is a serious issue and needs to be followed up upon.

Paper ballots, while they have the potential to improve transparency, do not automatically do so. We need real audits and real access when anomalies occur.  When a recount is requested, we need a true and accurate one, without stupid rules to prevent people from doing their jobs.

Without open, honest and transparent election systems, we can not have faith in our elections or our democracy.

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