Michigan

Fact Check-Images appearing to show election workers moving ballots after poll deadline on Election Day in Detroit are not proof of ‘fraud’

Social media users falsely claim that images of people transporting ballots to a Detroit polling site after 8 p.m. on election day prove voter fraud in Detroit.

A tweet, which received over 2,400 likes at the time of writing, read: “The Gateway Pandit has exclusive video and photo evidence that the City of Detroit, Michigan collected thousands of ballots well past the 2022 statutory deadline. This video is from the Detroit Department of Elections at 2978 West Grand.here).

The claims were also shared by Facebook users (here), (here), (here).

The claim comes from a Gateway Pandit article, which includes two images time-stamped at 11:34 p.m. November 8 and 1:22 a.m. November 9, the first showing people next to a van with the back doors open and the second Men apparently carrying ballot papers out of a van (here).

That article states, “We can exclusively report that at 11:30 p.m. on election night, the City of Detroit processed and began processing a significant number of ballots,” and that “the City of Detroit processed and began processing more ballots.” at 1:22 a.m. on election night.”

The article states that the images were taken outside of the Detroit Department of Elections at 2978 W. Grand Blvd.

Reuters located the images on Google Images and confirmed that they appear to show the back of the Detroit Department of Elections building at 2978 W. Grand Boulevard (bit.ly/3Uxkj7Z).

Mike Doyle, another spokesman for the Michigan Department of State, said via email that the Detroit Department of Elections, which the screenshots in the Gateway Pundit article allegedly show, is one of the clerk’s offices.

When asked, spokesmen for Michigan State Department and Detroit Department of Elections could not provide further details about the images, but both shared processes currently underway on election night that provide context and a likely explanation for the photos shared online.

Matt Friedman, a representative for the Detroit Department of Elections and spokesman for Detroit Votes, a bipartisan voter information campaign, told Reuters by phone that voters in Michigan had until 8 p.m. on Election Day to cast their absentee ballots, according to logistical terms the city around said to start transporting the ballot papers after 8 p.m. (here).

“Vehicles are sent across town to twenty mailboxes after 8 p.m. The process cannot legally begin even before 8 p.m., and it takes several hours to pick up these absentee ballots from the locations where they are legally located, due to the size of the city,” Friedman said.

A Michigan Department of State spokesman, Jake Rollow, added in an emailed statement that ballots must go through a security check before being counted. He said that in Detroit, security checks take place in an employee’s office before being transported in batches to be counted on a mail-in ballot board.

“The security clearance process is time-consuming and as such, particularly in high-turnout elections like this one, it’s common for absentee ballots that reach clerks by 8 p.m. to be taken to the counting boards several hours later,” Rollow said.

A FAQ page called Fact Checks, where the Michigan Department of State’s website addresses misinformation that circulated after the 2020 election, confirms the process of ballot shipping described by Rollow, saying, “In cities like Detroit, the ballots arrived several hours after the Polling stations on the counting boards were closed.” (here)

Another page on the State Department’s website describes what happens after the polling stations close and that absentee ballots must be “collected, security checked and taken to the counting location” (here). The website also says this process can take hours or even days after polling stations close, supporting the argument that photos released by the Gateway Pandit show a normal process.

The gateway expert has not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

VERDICT

No proof. There is no evidence that photos presented in an article are evidence of fraud or anything unusual happening on election day in Detroit, Michigan. Election officials told Reuters ballots must be collected, checked and counted, a process that can take hours after the poll closes at 8 p.m.

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

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