Michigan had a record midterm election turnout this week, with the scrutiny of the governor’s office and referendums on abortion and voting rights In balance.
However, with an increased focus on coordination problems and irregularities Nationwide, Ann Arbor became the target of false information after reports of long lines of voters waiting to cast their ballots late Tuesday night in the college community were touted.
However, election officials, government monitoring groups and other experts said the election process was conducted in accordance with state law.
Here are the facts.
CLAIM: City officials in Ann Arbor registered new voters and allowed them to vote long after polling stations closed on Election Day.
THE FACTS: The bogus claim gained traction after a Republican nominee for Michigan Secretary of State made a lengthy statement on social media backing the vote in Ann Arbor — a Liberal bastion where the University of Michigan – as evidence of election misconduct emerged.
“We will not tolerate the lawlessness of the Ann Arbor City Clerk,” Kristina Karamo wrote in her Election Day tweet, which has since been liked or shared more than 1,200 times.
The Trump-backed Republican, who ended up losing to incumbent Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, doubled down on her claims Thursday in a tweet that was also widely shared.
“Ann Arbor employee is complicit in mass election crimes. Illegal registration of people after 8pm,” wrote another Twitter user, repeating the false claim. “They arrogantly break the law.”
But Michigan state law allows anyone who queues after polling stations close at 8 p.m. to register to vote and cast a ballot, election officials and experts told The Associated Press this week.
“Although we say polling stations are open until 8 p.m. in MI, if you queue before 8 p.m. and stay in line, you can vote,” wrote Sharon Dolente, senior advisor for Promote the Vote, in an E -Mail. “The same applies if you have to register first to be able to vote.”
Promote the Vote, a coalition including the NAACP, the League of Women Voters and the American Civil Liberties Union, coordinated an election-day hotline on Tuesday and had hundreds of observers at polling stations across the state.
Dale Thomson, a political science professor at the University of Michigan at Dearborn, agreed, noting that in 2018 Michigan voters approved same-day registrationwhich means voters can register up to and including Election Day.
The Michigan State Department, which oversees the statewide election, confirmed to Ann Arbor officials that all voters registered after 8 p.m. waited in line before polling stations closed and that a document was provided to each person to verify this, it said Jake Rollow, a spokesman for the agency.
“Eligible American citizens have the constitutional right to register to vote and to vote, and if they stand in line at 8 p.m. on Election Day they must be permitted to do so,” he wrote in an email.
Joanna Satterlee, a spokeswoman for the city of Ann Arbor, said waiting voters were given a “ticket” in the form of a blank application to vote.
Only those who had the application in line were allowed to register and vote, she said. Staff were also present to ensure no one joined the lines after 8pm
Satterlee said the city didn’t have a count of how many votes were cast by those who queued after 8 p.m. Tuesday, but that the last ballot was issued just after 1 a.m. Wednesday.
She said the three polling locations affected were City Hall and two locations on the University of Michigan campus, where hundreds of waiting voters were seen wrapped in donated blankets and sipping hot cocoa as temperatures dropped below 45 degrees.
The US Department of Justice, which posted election monitors in other Michigan cities, declined to comment, and Karamo’s campaign did not respond to news this week.
However, the Secretary of State’s office said it will work with city officials, university administrators and student leaders in Ann Arbor and other college communities to “identify and implement practices to prevent such situations in the future.”
Michigan State University said Friday it experienced similarly long voting lines, with the final ballot being cast at 12:09 a.m. Wednesday at its East Lansing campus.
“Unfortunately, long lines have been a challenge in Michigan for years in some places, mostly college towns,” Dolente said. “This was before same-day registration was introduced. Promote the Vote looks forward to working with election officials to prevent this from happening in the future.”
This is part of AP’s efforts to address widespread misinformation, including working with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content circulating online. Learn more about fact checking at AP.