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Fact check: Republican and Democrat challengers were present inside Detroit count

Posts saying Republicans were not allowed inside Detroit’s ballot-counting room on Nov. 4, the day after the U.S. presidential election, have been shared online.

GOP poll challengers react after being asked to leave due to room capacity at the TCF Center after Election Day in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., November 4, 2020. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

An example can be seen here (here), where a Facebook user says: “I just spent 37 hours at TCF center in Detroit, I personally witnessed egregious and obvious cheating, and extreme election fraud….Conservatives being barred from coming inside.”

This check will not examine the suggestion of fraud, for which no evidence is provided.

The allegation that Conservatives were barred from coming inside is misleading: Republican and Democrat challengers were allowed inside the room but people from both sides were blocked from re-entering because maximum capacity had been reached.

Emotions were running high in Michigan, a battleground state, as votes continued to be counted across the United States after the election began on Nov. 3.

Reuters and the Detroit Free Press reported that confusion arose on the afternoon of Nov. 4 as city election officials blocked 30 people, mostly Republicans but also some Democrats, from re-entering the vote-counting room (here , here) . This was due to capacity restrictions to fight the spread of COVID-19.

The decision angered the crowd outside, who were mostly Republicans, and led to posts on social media suggesting it was a partisan decision to prevent Conservatives from viewing the counting process.

However, the City of Detroit’s corporation counsel, Lawrence Garcia, the official spokesman on this issue, told Reuters by text message: “Both Republicans and Democrats were inside the ballot-counting room.

“Officials just had to stop letting more in because the room was well beyond capacity of both Republican and Democrat,” he wrote. “There was never a policy of blocking only one party’s election challengers from entering the CCB (Central Counting Board). When we realized we had far more than one challenger per counting board per party - for both parties - we temporarily stopped admitting all challengers regardless of party.”

Jocelyn Benson, Secretary of State for Michigan, reiterated this in an interview with CBS News: “From the moment the polls opened yesterday, when our poll workers and election workers were able to begin tabulating ballots up until now, they have been following every rule, meticulously counting every vote, doing so transparently with people from both sides of the aisle, both looking on and working the process” (here) .

The Detroit Free Press also reported that 134 challengers were present from each party at the beginning of Nov. 4, alongside 134 nonpartisan poll observers (here) .

VERDICT

Misleading. It is true that some Republicans were not allowed to re-enter the ballot-counting room in Detroit. However, Democrats were also barred, to reduce the number of people in the room and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Both Republicans and Democrats were inside to view the vote-counting process.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .          

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