Recount 2016: Alleged Voter Suppression Continues Past Election Day, As Michigan Count By County Blocked By Republicans

Christine Beswick

Michigan Live reported that on Friday evening, the Michigan Supreme Court denied Dr. Jill Stein’s appeal of a lower court decision that blocked a Michigan count by county recount of elections 2016. The decision to block Recount 2016 appears to be largely a partisan issue, with a 3-2 block of Michigan’s count by county, with three Republicans in favor of blocking the recount, and two Democrat judges from the Michigan Supreme Court voting against.

Michigan Live reported that the dissenting opinions were written by Michigan Supreme Court judges Richard Bernstein and Bridget McCormack, both Democrat appointees. Bridget McCormack wrote that she would approve the lower court appeal of Dr. Jill Stein, whereas Richard Bernstein wrote that he would have reversed it all together and permitted the Michigan count by county to continue.

Jill Stein has said since the beginning of her Recount 2016 efforts, that the purpose of the recount in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, was to determine if there was any election fraud and to determine if the election was an integrity-based election. At a press conference Friday morning, Stein’s attorney Mark Brewer hinted that there were indeed some integrity issues when he said the following.

“Every vote is not being counted because again, we’ve seen shifts here and votes being counted for the first time, because they were not on election night.”

In addition to votes not being counted, integrity issues arose when the Stein team reportedly noted problems with the storage of ballots, and with the optical scanners on the voting machines themselves. Wayne County in particular, as The Inquisitr previously reported, showed some discrepancies in Michigan when the poll books did not batch the final ballot count.

Recount 2016 Michigan County By County Officials
Cari Newbeck, deputy clerk, Oakland Township, counts ballots during a statewide presidential election recount in Waterford Township, Mich., Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. [Image by Paul Sancya/AP Images]

In other words, the number of ballots issued did not match the final vote tallies. The House Democrat Detroit Caucus and 23 state Senators are calling for an investigation into these irregularities. Meanwhile, despite what appears to be clear integrity issues over the fairness of the votes in the election in Michigan, Republicans celebrated when Recount 2016 was stopped in Michigan with Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette declaring the Republican block of the recount a “huge victory.”

Michigan Live reports that of the 2.1 million votes cast in Michigan, 2,725 precincts were counted before the efforts were blocked. Hillary Clinton’s narrow margin in Michigan rose by 102 votes during the unofficial recount process. Whether there were more votes for Hillary Clinton in Michigan than were counted on election day is an answer the public, and the Democratic party, will now never have.

Alternet reported that the blocking of the Michigan count by county is “a travesty” and have collected statements from election integrity activists and computer security experts that supported the recount. John Bonifaz, president and co-founder of Free Speech for People had the following to say.

“It is an outrage that the voters of Michigan are being denied their right to have their votes properly counted. Because of a partisan state appeals court decision, Americans will never know the truth about what happened in this election. But the fight for our democracy must go on, now more than ever. History will record that, at this critical moment, people across the country stood up to demand that we verify the vote.”

An associate professor of computer science at the University of Iowa, Douglas Jones, went a step farther to say that the blocking of Michigan’s count by county suggests Donald Trump has something to hide.

“In a healthy democracy, elections are run with sufficient transparency that partisans of the losing candidate can convince themselves that they lost fair and square. Recounts in close elections are a necessary part of this transparency, particularly when the margin of victory is exceeded by an unusual number of ballots that were cast without reporting any vote in the election. Trump’s fight to stop the recount only serves to fuel speculation that he has something to hide.”

Other election integrity experts told Alternet that democracy fails when “we continue to allow unreliable computers to decide our elections” according to Barbara Simons on the board of advisers on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Dan Wallach, of Rice University’s Department of Computer Science mentioned the alleged election fraud through foreign influence.

“I’m disappointed that Michigan isn’t seeing its recount through. We have legitimate concerns about foreign nation-states trying to manipulate our elections, and Michigan offered an important opportunity to either prove or disprove these concerns. The discrepancies in Detroit (broken seals, mismatching counts) already point to flaws in Michigan’s election processes that need to be improved, and even a recount that failed to change the outcome would be able to provide a definitive count of how many Michigan votes were handled so poorly that they cannot be properly recounted.”

Indeed it does appear to both integrity officials and Democratic members of the public that alleged voter suppression continued in Michigan past election day. The only way to determine if election fraud happened in Michigan, was to examine the physical evidence of the paper ballots in a Michigan count by county. Now that won’t happen.

Recount 2016 Michigan Count by County
A ballot with a vote for Donald J. Trump is shown during a statewide presidential election recount in Waterford Township, Mich., Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. [Image by Paul Sancya/AP Images]

One member of the public has described their views of voter suppression in action while observing the Michigan recount. In a post written on Medium, Nick Sharp describes his experiences as an observer of the Michigan recount. He used the word “bloodbath.”

His experiences as an observer in the Michigan recount are described as votes being suppressed and challenged repeatedly by an army of Trump’s lawyers. Sharp says he showed up at 9 :00 a.m. to be an observer in Wayne County, Michigan, a heavily Democratic section of Michigan.

He says he was not able to count one single vote during his first four-hour shift, as there was so much time spent on challenges of the votes themselves. “It was a bloodbath” he writes.

“Trump’s legal team was there in force, circling the room like sharks. They were challenging everything, gumming up the works, and disqualifying whole precincts. I was only aware of a single Green Party attorney plus one law student in my (large) room. Many challenges had one or more Trump lawyers speaking with election officials, and no legal advocate present for the other side; they were simply outnumbered and outgunned.”

The volunteer observer writes about how every table for the recount had at least 1-2 Trump observers present, and each one was given written scripts to challenge “every single precinct regardless of the facts.” He describes the challenge process.

“When a precinct is challenged, everything is recorded in writing by the election officials present. If the challenge is obviously true, the precinct in question is deemed un-recountable, right there. The civic employees write a report, return everything to the box, seal the box, and move on to the next precinct, then the process of recording and unsealing a box begins again.”

But he says, even when the challenge is not warranted, or, “clearly contrived,” it still must be recorded. The observer sat at a table for a full hour before the first box was unsealed, due to the number of challenges occurring. By the time the box was opened, the election official present became frustrated and “shouted an announcement to the room.”

“All precincts have already been challenged. You don’t have to read your scripts anymore, we’re not writing down the challenges. If you still want to read them, go ahead and read them. (Shouting louder) But we’re not writing them down any more.” (He raised his arms) “We’re not gonna do it!”

The observer says this did not stop the Trump observer from reading their challenges. And, if one miscount out of one thousand votes occurred, the entire precinct would be disqualified. Sharp wrote the following.

“Thousand of votes and hours of counting were disqualified if one ballot in a thousand was missed amid the chaos in the room.”

From this description it appears that the Trump lawyers created the chaos in order to disqualify votes for Hillary Clinton, is the tone of the message of the observer on Medium. He also wonders why so many lawyers were present in Wayne County, and whether or not the Republican counties had as much chaos as that one county did.

Babylon Dictionary defines voter suppression as, “A strategy to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing people from exercising the right to vote…Voter suppression attempts to reduce the number of voters that might vote against the candidate or proposition advocated by the suppressors.”

Entire precincts of votes being disqualified, or suppressed, after election day in the Michigan recount is an event that rises to the level of voter suppression under this definition. This form of voter suppression is a pro-Republican tactic that many have alleged to be present in Michigan before, during, and now after, Election Day.

The Michigan count by county has now been stopped, after Donald Trump has alleged countless times the election was rigged. Whether it was or not in Michigan, we will never know, because his team of lawyers, and also three Republican judges on the Michigan Supreme Court bench, refused to investigate the integrity of Michigan elections.

[Feature Image by Paul Sancya/AP Images]