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Detroit – A chaotic confrontation with protesters took place on Wednesday afternoon outside the TCF Center, where city policemen forbade Republicans and Democrats protesters from entering the room where Detroit ballots are being counted inside the convention center.

Both political parties hit a maximum of 134 defenders by law, and when election officials told the GOP those who challenged the party had reached its limit, some started screaming about The process is unfair and lack of transparency. An unidentified election official yelled back that the group had reached its limit.

City police officers then locked the doors behind the chaos, restricting who could enter. The challengers, carrying “Count every ballot” and “voter decision” signs, then knock on windows and doors to peek into the rooms where the votes are being counted, and the staff The election tried to cover the glasses with cardboard and poster boards.

“They are escorting us out like the ponies in the nightclub,” said Addison Township Republican defiant Nick Sinishtaj. “When you walk in, they ask which side you are linking to and as soon as you say GOP, they say, ‘Both are active.’ Well, if that’s the case, why did you ask what my party was in the first place? “

Dozens of Republican members left the room where the votes were being counted, he added, and the city’s Election Department officials did not let challengers be replaced as they left.

Detroit office employee Clerk Janice Winfrey on site said they were unable to comment.

Chaos came as President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign filed suit with Michigan’s Court of Complaints seeking to suspend state counting of votes “until meaningful access was granted. “to observe the counting of votes. Meanwhile, a review is underway for unofficial results in a small county in Northern Michigan.

After news of Trump’s lawsuit broke out, inside the room where the votes were being tally, a group of unknown people started chanting, “Stop voting!”

The Detroit Elections had counted about 162,000 absentee ballots as of 2pm Wednesday, Winfrey’s office said in a statement. The department predicts that it will complete the count of the absentee ballots by 6 pm. The department sent 190,000 absentee ballots, and 178,000 were returned.

“This process has been going on all day,” said Sharon Dolente, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan who was a former challenger to the Civil Rights Lawyers Commission. “We’ve watched the process, we can see every aspect of it. I’ve seen my peers from different challenge organizations observing every part of the process. The process is working.”

But with votes sent from military members and others living abroad still counted, said Christopher Schormak, a challenger to the Nonpartisan Elections Integrity Fund, a project of a conservative law firm. Thomas More Society, said he doubted the city would be completed before that deadline. . Certified non-partisan organizations can have up to 134 challengers, the same number of “electoral boards” counting votes with two people checking the ballots.

“The type of votes they have won’t get into the machine,” he said. “All of them must be cloned and re-checked by another worker.”

William Hartmann, a Republican member of the Wayne County Canvassers Council who is observing the vote count, said: Election officials at one point cheered when a challenger was escorted out of the room because of the air wearing a mask.

Being prevented from entering the counting room is not isolated for Republican members. Democrat challenger Rachel Fahn, 20, of Commerce Township, said she had to wait two a.m. Wednesday morning to get into the room. Democrats have been directing her and other challengers to wait, she said, because of safety concerns related to the new coronavirus pandemic.

“I just wait here until everyone has a break,” Fahn said. “It took about two hours. Not only was GOP not allowed in.”

At around 2:40 p.m. on Wednesday, Democratic candidate Joe Biden and Republican US Senate candidate John James took the lead positions over President Donald Trump and US Senator respectively. States Gary Peters, Town D-Bloomfield.

Critical and close-knit races have become a national focus of attention on Michigan as the battle for votes shifts from voting to counting.

“There are times when people are just sitting around doing nothing,” said Gordon Pennington, 65, of Owasso, an Integrity Election Foundation challenger. “After that, a bunch of votes will be dumped, and that’s when the activity begins.”

A group of Republican challengers started the day early, heading down to the bottom floor of the Detroit convention center. A large group of Democrats challenged also arrived on Wednesday. More from both sides focus on the center throughout the day.

“This is the most challenging number of people I’ve ever seen on the floor,” said Tim Griffin, an attorney for Thomas More Society, who is directing the challengers to the poll. “We just want to make sure every vote counts.”

But Griffin raised the issue with the polls’ representatives. About a dozen are Republicans, he said, while there are 600-700 inspectors at the TCF Center.

“This is not a fair process,” he said. “There should have been a Republican at every table.”

Pennington added: “When they were duplicating the ballots, which they were allowed to do if there was a tear or coffee stain so that the machine could read them, they had to have two witnesses, one from each majority party. It’s not always happening. “

He and Griffin said early Wednesday morning before 4 a.m., a new batch of 38,000 ballots had been brought in for the tally from an unknown location.

“We were physically blocked” from getting close to the scene, Pennington said. “There’s nothing to see here.” Where did those ballots come from? “

Deborah Choly, 66, of Grosse Pointe also showed up Wednesday afternoon to be a Democrat challenger. She said she had been contacted by the National Bar Association.

“They said it was necessary to come up, so I did,” she said.

In addition to the major cities, eye-catching is the Antrim County of Northern Michigan, home to about 23,000 residents. It declined to release unofficial election results on Wednesday morning as district officials considered the “difference” in the numbers, said Micki Hocking, the county’s deputy office.

“We hope to know this afternoon,” said Hocking.

In 2016, the county voted 62% to 33% for Donald Trump. That was about 8,469 for the Republican party. On Wednesday, however, Republicans on social media shared pictures of the unofficial results out of the county that showed Biden won the district with 62% support.

Hocking said there is a discrepancy between the results reported to the county and the election results reported.

“We are working to find a solution to that problem,” she said. “And we are working on our own computer programming.”

bnoble@detroitnews.com

cmauger@detroitnews.com

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