The Michigan Citizens for Election Integrity (MC4EI) is completing a year-long deep dive into the 2020 General Election in Detroit.

Yesterday, in another preview of their upcoming report, TCF Timeline: the 2020 General Election in Detroit, we brought you the first of a three-part series detailing the shocking treatment of GOP challengers inside Detroit’s Absent Voter Counting Board (AVCB).

Members of the Democrat Party, Detroit poll workers, supervisors, and officials allegedly intimidated, removed, and obstructed GOP and non-partisan challengers and — most importantly — refused to record their challenges.

But why risk actions, which could amount to felonies under Michigan law?

Why were they so determined to shut down duly-authorized challengers? What were they trying to hide?

The short and most obvious answer might be “fraud.”

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Certainly, the challengers’ affidavits are replete with allegations of every kind of fraud – from workers filling out blank ballots to tabulation of ballots from other counties. But was there a type of fraud, or more subtly, an election law violation that could protect fraud, that occurred in significant magnitude to move the needle in Michigan?

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During the painstaking process of peeling back the onion, one layer at a time, MC4EI investigators came upon a recurring observation by the GOP and non-partisan challengers: they frequently encountered ballots of voters not found in the electronic poll book or the paper supplemental lists of late registering voters1. On the surface, this might not appear to be anything out of the ordinary. Indeed, there can be problems during a busy election, and a few voters and their ballots will occasionally “slip through the cracks” and fail to make it onto the list of eligible voters.

But when this problem of apparently ineligible ballots being counted is reported by large numbers of GOP and non-partisan challengers, and when the numbers of ballots involved climb into the thousands, the voting public should be concerned.

A recurring theme in the challengers’ accounts is that these undocumented ballots were routinely challenged by the GOP, but their challenges were not accepted – or even recorded — by poll workers or their superiors.

Although this was denied by top election officials who spoke to the media, the evidence is overwhelming and comes from dozens of GOP and non-partisan poll challengers. Their sworn testimony in countless affidavits proved that this was an ongoing problem on both counting days. It amounted to systematic obstruction of the challenger’s duties – duties supposedly protected by State law. 

A “Problem ballots” bin was photographed during the pre-election challenger conference at TCF Center, November 29th, 2020

To illustrate the scope of the undocumented ballots problem, here are some excerpts from MC4EI’s upcoming report, “TCF Timeline: the 2020 General Election in Detroit”:

November 4th – Election Day Plus One

10:30 AM – Non-partisan challenger Christopher Schornak (Exhibit 1, p.30) arrives at approximately 10:30 am and begins working at AVCB’s 88 and 89, where he sustains verbal abuse and intimidation by “not only the Democratic poll challengers but the ACLU and other organizations.” Mr. Schornak observes ballots that were not in the electronic poll book or the supplemental paper log. Instead of these ballots being taken out of the count and marked as a “challenged ballot,” Schornak watches as they are counted like any other ballot. [Note: Schornak would later publicly estimate that he saw over 8,000 such undocumented ballots.]

Watch Christopher Schornak explain what he witnessed while working as a GOP poll challenger at the TCF Center on Nov. 4:

2 PM – GOP challenger Dyanna Papsdorf (Exhibit 1, p.42) begins an 8-hour shift at TCF. She observes discrepancies between the numbers on the ballots and the numbers on the envelope and sees ballots entered into the system that were not listed in the electronic poll book or the supplemental paper list.

6:30 PM – Non-partisan challenger, affiant John McGrath is at AVCB #73, where he continues to see “unlisted voters,” i.e., ballots that are not matching with a voter listed in the e-poll book or the paper supplemental list of registered voters. He has seen them all day and has challenged such ballots each time…The total number of “unlisted voters” McGrath counts at AVCB #56 is 1,454.

8:00 PM – GOP challenger and affiant Bob Cushman working at Counting Board #86 notes that none of the names in a group of “several thousand new ballots” that arrived in the evening are being found in the electronic poll book or the supplemental list (of voters who registered and voted late, on November 2nd or 3rd). For two hours straight, he sees the computer operators at several counting boards manually adding the names and addresses of these thousands of apparently invalid ballots into the electronic poll book.

GOP challenger Jennifer Seidl states: “I heard an election official order ‘Enter them! Make everything match, and get it done as soon as possible!” When these envelopes are scanned, the monitor screen reads: “0 matching voters”. The names on these ballots are simply not found in the universe of registered Detroit voters who have been sent a ballot.

In November of 2021, MC4EI collaborated with Christina Bobb of OAN News for a series of video interviews with challengers at the TCF on 11/3/20.

GOP Challenger Matt Seely and his daughter Alexandra Seely gave Ms. Bobb the following compelling account of several thousand undocumented, unverified ballots being tabulated at the TCF:

None of the names and addresses were matching up with the voter log or—the— you know, the supplemental log for last-minute registrations. So, I would challenge those ballots, and they kept putting them in a hopper of unverified ballots. Finally, after challenging and challenging and going and getting our supervisor to come over and talk to their supervisor, it was explained to me that those ballots that were going into that hopper were basically in the wrong precinct, which sounded reasonable to me. Well, after a while, I noticed somebody coming by with another, you know, like a cart and just hand- grabbing them and putting them in the cart and going to the next station. I’m like, “well if they’re in the wrong precinct, why is he taking all of them and mixing them together? It doesn’t make any sense.”

So I followed the guy, and he went all the way to the back of the counting hall, and there was a table — two tables actually — set up there, and he was delivering these unverified ballots, and there were a group of people — they didn’t have a computer set up or anything. They were literally just tearing the tabs off them, folding them straight, and putting them in groups of fifty so that they could go through the counting machines. So, I literally watched thousands of unverified ballots get run through the machines.”

Watch GOP poll challengers Matt Seely and his daughter, Alexandra Seely, tell their incredible stories to Christina Bobb’s One America News Network: 

As Mr. Seely noted, the initial explanation seemed plausible. The ballots weren’t showing up because they were from the “wrong precinct.” But when he investigated further, it became apparent that this was a bogus explanation, and there really wasn’t any concern for proper precinct placement.

The undocumented ballots were collected from around the room and simply lumped into one group in a remote part of the counting center where thousands were being run through the counting machines away from the prying eyes of GOP and non-Democrat challengers.

Mr. Seely confirmed in a phone interview that the poll workers and supervisors had made it clear that none of these unverified ballots could be challenged and that despite his objections, none of the above-mentioned challenges were successfully logged as challenged ballots that day.

The floor plan of the TCF Center’s massive Detroit Central Counting Board with 134 individual counting boards, each with a team of 5 poll workers. One challenger was permitted from each party to monitor each board’s activity.

But could there be a plausible reason for the many other “undocumented” ballots reported by multiple challengers on November 4th, 2020?

The official explanation was provided in the November 11th, 2020 affidavit of Chris Thomas, the Senior Consultant for City Clerk Janice Winfrey, and the top election official inside the Detroit Central Counting Board that day. The sworn statement of Thomas, the former longtime Director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections,’ on this topic reads as follows:

On Wednesday, November 4th, it was discovered that the envelopes for some ballots that had been received prior to November 3rd at 8 pm had not been received in the QVF.

They would not scan into the EPB and were not on the supplemental paper list. Upon reviewing the voters’ files in the QVF, Department of Elections staff found that the final step in processing receipt of the ballots was not taken by the satellite office employees.

The last step necessary to receive a ballot envelope requires the satellite employee to enter the date stamped on the envelope and select the “save” button. They failed to select “save.” So, they forgot to click save on “some” ballots.

Note that Mr. Thomas studiously avoids mention of the number of ballots affected by this error, saying only that “some” ballots had not been saved. This gives the reassuring impression that a relatively small number of ballots suffered this fate. But as the “TCF Timeline” report demonstrates, there are other reported instances of such undocumented ballots – which number in the thousands. 

City of Detroit head engineer, poll worker, and 2020 election whistleblower Jessy Jacobs estimated “thousands” of ballots that were not received into the qualified vote file. Her sworn statement read: “I was told to alter the information in the QVF to falsely show that the absentee ballots had been received in time to be valid. I estimate this was done to thousands of ballots.”

When she confronted her boss, Chris Thomas, with what she believed to be improper procedure, she alleges that he concurred with her but added: “why should we punish voters for a processor’s mistake?”

Among the GOP Challengers citing unlisted ballots in the thousands, Matt Seely is joined by Bob Cushman, Jason Humes, John McGrath, and Chris Schornak. The latter estimated “at least 8 thousand ballots that could not be verified.” Keep in mind; these challengers operated at different locations throughout a massive Central Counting Board with 134 individual counting boards scattered throughout TCF Center. There were quite likely more instances that were not reported – especially in the latter part of Wednesday, November 4th, when, as we saw in the last article in this series, the number of GOP challengers had been winnowed down from 150 to just 10.

Phil O’Halloran, the author of “TCF Timeline,” believes the probability of wholesale fraud having occurred rises steeply when the sheer numbers of supposed “clerical errors” is considered: “We can all relate to a handful of people each making a few mistakes while working with computers, but it strains credulity when this error purportedly involves thousands of ballots, at different times and from different locations, and it’s repeated over and over again.” 

Here’s another excerpt from TCF “Timeline: the 2020 General Election in Detroit”: 

Could a single failure to click “Save” invalidate thousands of ballots?

At [Chris] Thomas’ hearing before the Michigan Senate, Republican Senator Lana Theis was skeptical that a data entry system would allow the worker to advance to the next entry without first clicking “enter.” And what about the ubiquitous “save changes?” message that appears when anyone tries to close almost any document without clicking save? Thomas claimed to have “talked to the Bureau about this, and they have acknowledged the issue.”

Cindy Berry, Clerk of Chesterfield Township, stated that while it is technically possible with the QVF software, this is not likely to occur in her office since “we save them one at a time” [Berry, C., Pers. Comm July 12th, 2021]. Her Elections Coordinator, Mary Geremesz, explained that “proper procedure is to receive it [an AV ballot] immediately.” She agreed with Berry that it is technically possible to simply close out of a system in the middle of receiving a ballot without clicking save.

When asked if it would be possible at her facility to fail to click “save” on multiple ballots, she said, “No. There would be no saving in batches”.

Geremesz explained that the system is designed to enter each voter record individually. She added that there are checks and balances that would kick in since they run printouts, which show whether the ballots received balance and each entry is accounted for: “it would definitely be caught.” When asked hypothetically if a failure to click the save button could reasonably be expected to occur to hundreds or thousands of ballots, she stated, “Oh no. It would have to be just an occasional ballot.”[Geremesz, Mary, Pers. Comm. July 14th, 2021] 

Detroit processor, and election whistleblower Jessy Jacob, would likely agree since, as she explained, the ballots were not entered in one massive batch or by one single poorly trained worker. If valid, they would have been collected at the satellite facilities every hour and, pursuant to election procedure, each ballot had to be entered into the QVF immediately upon receipt. She emphasized this, stating, “immediate recording of the ballot is required, once you receive the ballot, not after two days, not after three days.” This is confirmed in the Michigan Bureau of Elections’ “Election Officials Manual,” Chapter Six, page 15, which states: “Immediate recording of AV ballots sent and returned into the AV module of the Qualified Voter File is required.”

So, for deniers of systemic fraud to buy into the “forgot to click ‘save’” explanation, they have to accept some very implausible scenarios, which all have to fall on the side of gross incompetence or dereliction of duty at many levels.

For instance, if Mr. Thomas had, as he claimed to Senator Theis, “talked to the Bureau” (Michigan Bureau of Elections) about the problem with the “Save” button, what was the Bureau’s and Director Jonathon Brater’s response? Did they do anything to rectify the problem – as a Presidential election approached? Did Chris Thomas do anything? Was this a problem in other Michigan jurisdictions?

And finally, if these were legitimate ballots, why were the challengers repeatedly prevented from challenging them?

They would have been counted along with all the others, and if they passed a post-election review during either the canvas, a court challenge, or an audit, those votes would stand. “Timeline” Author Phil O’Halloran: “When the poll workers, supervisors – and as our report shows, even high-ranking officials — fail to follow the law and refuse to allow these ballots to be challenged, warning lights start flashing.” Those who dismiss the notion that fraud occurred reflexively counter that all these undocumented ballot discrepancies would have been sorted out later at the Wayne County Board of Canvassers. But, as “TCF Timeline” will reveal, the same shell game shenanigans seen with undocumented ballots at the TCF were evident when the Detroit election materials arrived at the canvassing board. 

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers Meeting, November 2020

The problem for Wayne County, the Detroit Department of Elections, the Michigan Attorney General, Secretary of State, and the leadership of both political parties is that, regardless of whether thousands of undocumented ballots were counted owing to fraud or to gross incompetence, valid challenges, which might have answered these questions, were not permitted or even recorded. Thus, state law appears to have been circumvented. As a result, public trust in the election process has been damaged. Therefore, these well-documented allegations demand the kind of full accounting that only a comprehensive, forensic audit by a qualified, independent body can achieve. And Michigan citizens expect nothing less, as evidenced by the thousands of signed affidavits demanding a full forensic audit that were recently delivered en masse to GOP state lawmakers and Democrat administration officials.

The video below shows two Michigan women helping to deliver over 7,500 affidavits to MI state lawmakers, along with Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Democrat AG Dana Nessel, and Democrat Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson.

Voters and citizens concerned about election integrity want to be reassured that any undocumented ballots are clearly shown to be honest clerical errors. They want to believe official reassurances that someone “forgot to click SAVE.” They want officials to follow time-honored procedures and the law to resolve such problems. However, as we will see in the final article in this series, the reaction of high-ranking officials when confronted by GOP challengers with thousands of undocumented ballots not only fails to reassure, it raises far more serious concerns.

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