My experience as an Observer in Detroit Part 1

The first thing that I want to say is that I am not one of the experts that sent into the field. Before joining them, my plan was to be an observer either in Michigan or Pennsylvania. I had second thoughts on where my energy would be best spent, but after hearing from Jan Bendor of the Michigan Election Reform Alliance, about the problems that they (and others) were expecting in Detroit, I decided to go on my days off. With reports of empty tables during the recount on Tuesday, I felt that my experience from the 2004 recount, as well as my experience as an election observer, that I would be useful on the ground.  In retrospect, I wish that I had written more of the details of my day in Detroit regarding names, numbers and precincts.

Wednesday was the first day that I had free, so I drove up early that morning. When we were starting (at a little after 9am), I noticed a bunch of people going into the main room. There were at least one other room, so I headed to the side room. I chose a table where there were two men working for the county, they were both retired and volunteering. They were friends. There was a Trump observer at the table also. We counted two absentee precincts with a total of around 1100 ballots. Each stack of votes that were counted were either a stack of absentee or in person votes. So each precinct that we counted was only 1/2 of the precinct. 

One of the canvassers admitted he was a Republican. All at the table were congenial, and there was a sense of civic duty and fair play to accurately recount the ballots. When we added the total counted ballots for each candidate, one time the total did not equal the total number of ballots counted. We strategized on why that was, where we thought the missing ballot was and then they recounted and found the ballot. There were two challenges, one by the Trump campaign for a possible overvote. The second seemed frivolous at the time and I didn’t pay more attention. The result of these two precincts is that if the two challenges were denied, Clinton received +2 votes in one precinct, and +3 votes in a second one.

After lunch, I moved into the big room (more on that later). I sat at a table that was starting with only a Trump observer. Gibralter Precinct 2. The two women were very fast in counting and sorting. They were counting an in person voting precinct. There were 854 votes. It’s a precinct that went 520 Trump to Clinton 288. It was a professional recount with no challenges and at the end Clinton gained 1.

My last table, when it was accurately counted, also added one for Clinton.

I found it interesting that in each of the precincts that I observed, when the recount was done accurately, there was a shift to Clinton between 1-3 votes per 1/2 precinct (so 2-6/precinct?) None of them showed a shift to Trump. That could add up over the 1,680 precincts that are in Wayne county.

The last table had problems with the Trump lawyers. At different points, we had 5 Trump lawyers, a lawyer for the county, two Stein organizers, a woman from the SOS office with a crowd looking on. At two points, I was yelling for a lawyer from either the Stein or Clinton Campaigns (none showed). I’ll talk about this table in Part 2 of my report on how Clinton lost 5 votes instead of gaining 1.

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