So this crossed my radar this morning. As I heard the voice on this recording, I knew exactly whose it was — the Board of Elections trainer who led my class back in September:
James Woods has 2.7 million Twitter followers, and god knows how many the TikTok user who originated this thing has, so if someone sends you this, please explain to them what’s going on here: She’s explaining the procedure for what happens when someone shows up to vote and doesn’t have an ID and can’t confirm their address, or otherwise has a problem. Those voters sign affidavits swearing to their identity and are issued “provisional” ballots; depending on some other factors, one type goes into the tabulator, and others go into an envelope. An envelope ballot is, essentially, a kick upstairs to an election inspector with higher authority, who will determine whether to count it. All day at my precinct, I think we had one envelope ballot, maybe two. (EDIT: Just checked my notes. We had four.) It’s a pretty rare occurrence. The “six days” thing is a reference to the time period the Board has to examine all envelope ballots to make this determination.
(Fun fact: A few years ago, when James O’Keefe, the Project Veritas troll, showed up at a Michigan polling place and told them he was Brian Dickerson, the Free Press editorial-page editor, this is the ballot he would have been issued, if it had gotten that far. And the affidavit he signed to receive it would be a felony.)
There’s an edit at the part about “destroy it,” and I don’t know what she’s talking about. All I can tell you is, she wasn’t advocating anyone trash ballots. More on that in a sec.
She was a great trainer. Big big voice and a sense of humor: “Read your training manuals! I know some of you have done this before, but things change! I used to be a size 4!”
The musical underlay I can’t explain. Ask James Woods. Ask his psychiatrist.
Anyway, I mention all this because I’m astonished – and I really shouldn’t be – by the amount of lying surrounding this election here, especially the absentee counts. Generally speaking I avoid the darkest sub-basements of the media ecosphere; the vending machines at the elite-media level are so much better. But even though it flourishes best there, this stuff has a way of making it to the president’s tiny, pudgy fingers, and so here we are.
I want to stress something right here. I am not widely experienced in Detroit election procedure, but I have more than 99 percent of the people opining on it. I’ve worked two elections now, and gone through three separate trainings, and I can say this: These people — and here I mean Detroiters, mostly black people — are deadly serious about voting. In every situation, the aim is to protect the vote. In dodgy situations like the one I just described, there are procedures to check, double-check, triple-check, and check again before accepting it or throwing it away. They are not fucking around, I promise you. When I spent a week processing absentee applications, if we had questions about any application — a signature that didn’t match was the most common — the answer was never, “Oh, this man is old and his child or caregiver probably filled this out for him, just let it through.” It was always “put it in the problem pile.” The problem pile went back to the Board of Elections for further review. I guess it’s possible the BofE was sitting around eating Cheetos and rubber-stamping these problem apps, but from the behavior of the employees I saw, I doubt it.
Early on primary day, in August, I was working under the same chairperson I was this week — it’s the young man in the photo yesterday. One of the first voters in the other precinct in the room was someone he knew, although they didn’t talk. As the other guy left, he raised his hand in our direction and called out, “First of all, we vote!” and the chairperson echoed it back to him.
What is that, I asked, and he explained it’s a bedrock tenet of Alpha Phi Alpha, the fraternity they both pledged in college. APA does extensive voter-participation work, for active members and alums, he said.
On Tuesday, when we talked between voters, he told me more about it. Apparently the fraternity has a procedure to join after college, if you didn’t go to a school with a chapter. And it’s not easy getting in; one of the things they consider is your voter participation, a public record. If the admissions board for your chapter includes an older man, a veteran of civil-rights struggles, and he sees that you were a non-voter for years on end? Expect to be questioned sharply about it, especially by that man, and watch your chance of admission fall.
All of which is to say that all this wink-and-nudge crap in the right-wing media sphere about corrupt Detroit is deeply, deeply racist. I stopped into my favorite dress shop today when I was downtown, picking up my check for the work I did for the Board in October. The owner was an ACLU observer in the AV count room Tuesday night, and we talked about it. Here were the rules and the setup: The city has 134 counting boards, and by law, each party can assign one trained, certified challenger to each board. Each counting board has five people, and they worked at these rectangular table setups:
As I think I mentioned earlier, the process is an assembly line: One person does this, hands the ballot to the next person, and it goes around the table until enough are in the pile, and then it goes to the tabulator, i.e., the counting machine, about the size of a photocopier. So: These two challengers, per table, are free to wander around and observe this to their hearts’ content. Poll watchers could also observe, but I’m not sure what their rules and restrictions are. I do know that there was a capacity limit, because of Covid but also because these people are working, and need to work efficiently, and having a bunch of people breathing down their necks is not conducive to that.
What happened was, at some point in the night, rumors began to fly around social media. I saw them around midnight, when I was trying to settle into some sleep. Someone just dropped off a box of 30,000 ballots out of nowhere! Need challengers at TCF Center NOW!!! That sort of thing. From what my friend at the dress shop said, these were military ballots, which they were told would be arriving. They were expected and they had staff to count them. Then, rumors being what they are, this figure ballooned to 130,000 on social media, and elaborate narratives were woven around them; my favorite was some Karen on Facebook Live claiming they were delivered by “a white van, a Chrysler 300 and a Ferrari.” By late afternoon, it had gotten ridiculous — people were arriving at the TCF Center and demanding to be admitted, but weren’t because the room was at capacity and work was ongoing.
So — and this is the part you might have seen on the news — these lunatics stood outside the glass walls of the counting room and began banging on the windows, howling Stop the count!, etc. The call had gone out to College Republicans at U-M and Hillsdale, and they all piled in cars to join the party. Imagine the scene: About 500 election workers, mostly black and female, working a locked-in shift, trying to get through 160,000 ballots, while Hillsdale students, freelance preachers, drama queens and assorted Karens and Kens — all of them white — screamed at them on the other side of the glass. I put together this aggregation this morning, before my sense of humor deserted me.
Then the police put up pizza boxes and poster paper on the glass walls to block the view, and they really went insane.
All this is over now, but the White House has spent the day whipping things up, and oh look what was just tweeted 15 minutes ago:
I am so, so, SO sick of this.
I’ve gone on long enough. But this is where we are as a country, and it’s not over yet, and it might even be getting worse.
I hope those healthy balances in everyone’s 401K was worth it.