“TRUST US”– Detroit Election chiefs to GOP challengers during 2020 election
From the chaos of the TCF Center on November 4th, 2020, there have emerged two diametrically opposed accounts of a single event – the rejected challenge of a group of thousands of “problem ballots.”
This is the third article in a three-part series based on the explosive new report from Michigan Citizens for Election Integrity (MC4EI.com), entitled “TCF Timeline: the 2020 General Election in Detroit” The last piece highlighted reports from GOP challengers of thousands of “undocumented ballots”. [“Were undocumented ballots the reason for fraud at Detroit’s TCF Center?” 100 Percent Fed Up, January 1st, 2022]. These ballots, which were not showing up in the poll books, were allegedly improperly run through the tabulators alongside ballots confirmed to be valid. Multiple GOP challengers cried “foul” and attempted to challenge these unverified ballots. However, they were routinely and flagrantly denied this right to challenge that is enshrined in Michigan election law [see the first in this series, “Ambush on the Detroit River,” 100 Percent Fed Up, December 30th, 2021].
Chris Thomas, the top official on the floor of the TCF Center in the 2020 General Election, claimed in an affidavit that no valid challenges were refused or ignored by Detroit election workers. Yet, according to “TCF Timeline,” not only were valid challenges routinely refused by poll workers and supervisors, Thomas himself is alleged to have refused the challenge of a group of several thousand ballots. This challenge was deemed to be valid by a GOP election lawyer who assisted the GOP challenger.
According to a notarized affidavit, on the second day of counting, Thomas and Daniel Baxter, the two top consultants for City Clerk Janice Winfrey at the TCF Center, refused the valid challenge of an estimated 5,000-7,000 absentee ballots made by a duly authorized GOP challenger at the Detroit Absent Voter Counting Board. The ballots, which poll workers themselves referred to as “problem ballots,” were those that did not appear in either the Electronic Poll Book or the Supplemental Lists of new voters (those registering in the final two and a half days before the election). The reason, according to Thomas and Baxter: ballot processors simply “forgot to click save.” [“Were undocumented ballots the reason for fraud at Detroit’s TCF Center?” 100 Percent Fed Up, January 1st, 2022]
A 68-page report, “TCF Timeline: the 2020 General Election in Detroit” was produced by newly-formed election watchdog group, Michigan Citizens for Election Integrity (www.MC4EI.com). According to the report, affidavits written shortly after the election, from both a GOP challenger named Jason Humes and a GOP lawyer, named G. Kline Preston, IV allege that around 7 pm on Wednesday, November 4th, an estimated 5000-7,000 problem ballots were challenged, but that the challenge was refused by Winfrey’s senior advisor, Chris Thomas, as well as AV Counting Board Chief Daniel Baxter. Thomas, a former Director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections, appears to refute this contention in a November 11th, 2020 affidavit under Item #13:
Two challengers were provided a demonstration of the QVF [Qualified Voter File] process to show them how the error occurred, and they chose not to file a challenge to the individual ballots.
Note that Thomas describes discussing return ballot envelopes with “several Republican challengers” but then singles out TWO challengers who were provided this QVF demonstration, not four, not twenty. This is important since it narrows it down to the only two Republicans who have described receiving a QVF demonstration from Thomas and Baxter – Jason Humes and G. Kline Preston1
That Humes and Preston were the two challengers Thomas was referencing seems likely because a demonstration of the QVF process would require going on the internet and accessing the Qualified Voter File (QVF) file in a counting center we were originally told had no internet connections. In fact, Thomas’ own affidavit describes the QVF as having “a high level of security and limitation on access to the file.” Furthermore, Thomas’ account of the QVF demonstration appears identical to Humes’ account of Thomas and Baxter’s actions:
We asked to be shown the process for one of the ballots. They walked over to a terminal at the raised platform area and showed us the State of Michigan voter record system [QVF].
1 G. Kline Preston,IV, Esq. volunteering as a GOP lawyer, appears to have been misidentified as a challenger by Thomas.
Chris Thomas’ sworn statement runs directly counter to the affidavits submitted in November, 2020, by Republican challenger Humes and Republican election lawyer, G. Kline Preston, IV. Jason Humes, the acting Republican floor captain, stated in a November 10th notarized affidavit: “Mr. Baxter and Mr. Thomas repeatedly denied the challenge on the grounds that it was not a valid challenge” [emphasis added]. In his affidavit of November 10th, 2020, GOP attorney Preston confirmed that the challenge was made and that it was valid, attesting under oath to the following:
…Jason Humes effectively challenged all of these problem ballots and requested that they be sequestered in order to preserve and record his timely, well-stated challenge to these ballots. He made this request to Messrs. Daniel Baxter and Chris Thomas.
It’s important to note that these are sworn statements from all three individuals, and that Thomas’ statement directly contradicts those of Humes and Preston. In case Thomas’ parsing of words might lead us to believe that he meant Humes did not challenge the “individual ballots,” note that Preston’s account dismisses this notion, asserting that Humes challenged ALL the ballots and requested that they be sequestered and preserved – none of which was permitted by Thomas and Baxter, according to Jason Humes’ sworn statement. The following is an excerpt from “TCF Timeline: The 2020 General Election in Detroit”:
7 PM Baxter and Thomas explain the reason the ballots were not showing up in the e-poll and supplemental books was due to election employee error. They further explain that when the ballots were returned to the clerk’s office, the election workers did not complete the check-in process due to not clicking save and close on the last screen. They explain that this is why the ballots in question were not showing up on any list — because there was no record of them being received. Humes asks to be shown the process for one of the ballots and one is selected from a stack of problem ballots. Baxter and Thomas walk over to a computer terminal at the raised platform area and access the State of Michigan QVF (Qualified Voter File) for the selected ballot, including the final screen where the election worker needed to click save and close…
…Humes asks how it could be assured that the 5,000 – 7,000 ballots had been properly verified and the answer is “trust us”. Humes then asks what the process was going to be when the problem ballots were returned to each AVCB and the answer is: it would be checked against a 3rd version of the printed supplemental poll book and if the ballots were still not on the list, each ballot would be manually entered into the electronic poll book. After a quick discussion between Humes and Preston, they return to Baxter and Thomas, and Humes challenges all the problem ballots…
That challenge was never permitted, per Jason Humes’ affidavit. He appeared to be concerned that going forward, this group of problem ballots would simply be manually entered into the poll book and counted the same as verified ballots. Hence the requested challenge of all 5,000-7,000 ballots. Among his written, stated concerns were:
- They were “denied all access to observe the ballots” and how the problems were resolved
- The ballots were not in the electronic poll book or supplemental poll lists
- The ballot envelopes were then opened and removed to an unobservable area [the raised platform]
Humes’ affidavit describes an “extensive, approximately 30 minute discussion regarding the ballots with Daniel Baxter and Chris Thomas.” Clearly, this was not a fleeting or inconspicuous interaction. It was one that further supports the suggestion that Thomas is referring to Humes and Preston when he claims that “two challengers were provided a demonstration of the QVF process” in order to “show them how the error occurred”. The latter being the alleged unfortunate failure of “processors” to select the save button on the computer. What Humes’ and Preston’s accounts do NOT support and, in the case of Humes’, strongly refute, is Thomas’ sworn statement: “…and they chose not to file a challenge…”
The reason it is so important to resolve this issue is that central to all of the GOP and non-partisan challengers’ allegations at the TCF is that their rights as challengers were violated and that they were violated knowingly, in what often appeared to be a coordinated fashion. See the first article in this series for a review of the shocking evidence [“Ambush on the Detroit River” 100 Percent Fed Up, December 30th, 2021]. If the senior official inside the TCF is refusing to permit the filing of lawful challenges – and they’re not required to be “valid” – then that official has arguably violated the rights of that challenger. And what type of message is that top official sending to his subordinates?
Why would the City of Detroit staff choose to collude with Democrat operatives to violate challengers’ rights on a grand scale? Specifically, why would they prevent challenges from being made and even from being recorded? Could it be to cover up the tabulation of thousands of ineligible ballots? As explained in the second article in this series [“Were undocumented ballots the reason for fraud at Detroit’s TCF Center?” 100 Percent Fed Up, January 1st, 2022], the excuse that Detroit Department of Election employees “forgot to click save”, does not hold up to scrutiny. Absentee ballots were arriving every hour of every day for a month and were being processed by multiple employees in any of 23 satellite centers, all of which operated under Michigan election procedure, which requires immediate entry of each ballot as soon as it arrives and which includes built-in safeguards against data entry errors. Of course, errors can still occur, but involving only a handful of ballots, not the many thousands of undocumented ballots alleged by numerous TCF challengers in sworn statements. Therefore, the official line, that some workers “forgot to click save”, suggests either systemic, gross incompetence or a blatant lie. Either way, a thorough investigation is clearly warranted and long-overdue.
Soon after Election Day, Chris Thomas told the press that GOP challengers, who had at first considered entering challenges, decided to withdraw them once they heard his explanation of the disputed processes. In one sweeping assertion–likely to provoke objections not just from Humes and Preston, but from several other GOP and non-partisan challengers who claim that their own challenges were denied–Thomas stated in his November 11th affidavit:
I am not aware of any valid challenge being refused or ignored, or of any challengers being removed [from TCF Center AVCB] because they were challenging ballots. Ballot challengers are part of the electoral process in Michigan and were fully able to participate in the process at the TCF Center.
However, at 8:00 pm on November 4th, GOP Challenger and affiant, Braden Giacobazzi, who attempted to challenge ballots not appearing in the poll book, was first threatened by an official, and soon after, removed from the counting board by police on the orders of election supervisors. He maintains that he remained polite and was removed because he had attempted to file a challenge. Giacobazzi was not alone. “TCF Timeline: the 2020 General Election in Detroit” presents not only myriad instances of GOP challengers being blocked, harassed and intimidated for attempting challenges, but multiple Republican challengers’ sworn statements attesting to their failed attempts to lodge challenges or even have them recorded by Detroit election workers, supervisors and high-ranking officials. Challengers claim that they were frequently denied the right to view, inspect and challenge ballots and procedures and, in some cases, were even physically removed from the counting board floor by police, allegedly for simply making a challenge, as is their duty when faced with questionable ballot counting procedures. The report cites Detroit Polling Site Inspector, Ted Dickens, who points out that no matter how off-base or incorrect a challenge might be, it must be recorded. This is confirmed in the October 2020 version of the official Secretary of State publication “The Appointment, Rights and Duties of Election Challengers and Poll Watchers”, which states on Page 10:
If a challenger has reason to believe that the precinct board is not issuing a challenged ballot when required, he or she must direct the challenge to the precinct chairperson. If the chairperson rejects the challenge, the challenger may contact the clerk to resolve the matter. The election inspectors must enter a complete record of the challenge on the Challenged Voters page in the Pollbook [Emphasis added. Note: in this case Chris Thomas and Daniel Baxter were the representatives of the clerk. https://www.michigan.gov/documents/SOS_ED_2_CHALLENGERS_77017_7.pdf]
The obvious question arises: if the problem ballots were indeed valid, why not simply comply with Michigan law and record the challenge? The ballots would be marked for later retrieval but would still proceed to the tabulators like unchallenged ballots and later, after the election results were in, they could be retrieved for legal challenge via a court order.
What were Detroit officials trying to hide? Their well-worn excuse of protecting voters from being “disenfranchised” would not apply, since the challenged votes would be counted right along with the others. An even larger question looms in light of the fact that some of the undocumented ballots, (including a group of 1,454 cited by John McGrath), were successfully challenged: why hasn’t the Michigan Republican Party sought to inspect these challenged ballots? With the current administration refusing to investigate any but the most isolated cases of alleged election fraud, it would likely require a court order, or a full forensic audit of all ballots, election materials and computers.
In addition to presiding over an election marked by flagrant discrimination against GOP challengers, Chris Thomas has made a number of statements, which simply don’t square with the facts as seen in this excerpt from “TCF Timeline: the 2020 General Election in Detroit”:
City Clerk Senior Advisor, Chris Thomas, would later respond to allegations that Republican challengers were hindered in their duties by telling the Detroit Free Press “nobody was mistreated” [Detroit Free Press, November 6th, 2020] and ultimately conclude that the chaos and disruption at the TCF Center “was caused by the attitudes of the challengers” [Detroit Free Press, May 19th, 2021]. Biased media reports echoed Thomas’ stance implying that the challengers are there at the pleasure of the election staff, but Detroit Polling Site Assessor, Ted Dickens disagrees: “One point seems to be consistently overlooked when challengers are discussed: They are as entitled to be there as any election inspector — or any DOE employee. All of us are participating as a result of state laws.” [Dickens, T, Pers. Comm.]
Thomas has also shown an aversion to transparency in relation to other GOP challengers’ rights under Michigan election law. For instance, when GOP challenger (and author of “TCF Timeline”), Philip O’Halloran and GOP challenger Bob Cushman attempted to view tabulation proceedings on the raised platform at the TCF on November 4th, 2020, they were angrily told by
Thomas to “get the hell down offa here!” O’Halloran objected, insisting that challengers have a right to view every aspect of the vote count, including the tallying of votes in the central counting computers perched on the raised platform known as “the Stage”. In his affidavit, GOP attorney J. Kline Preston, IV alluded to this inherent lack of transparency relating to activities on this raised stage:
…the entire set-up of the administration and calculation of ballots on November 4th, 2020 at the Detroit Department of Elections in the TCF Center was improper because a central part of their procedure was hidden and obscured in plain sight by the raised stage on which unknown functions were performed involving ballots which were not subject to observation, review, scrutiny or challenge.
When this attempt to perform challenger duties on the raised platform was repeated by O’Halloran in the 2021 Detroit Primary in August, Thomas refused access to observe or challenge once again, claiming there was “nothing going on up there,” despite the fact the raised platform is the “nerve center,” which is wired to receive electronic vote tallies from the 25 tabulator machines on the floor. These election results converge and are added together by computer prior to transmittal to Wayne County’s master tabulator. Note that, under Michigan election law, challengers are permitted to “observe the recording of absent voter ballots on voting machines.” [MCL 168.733 (1) i https://tinyurl.com/4srcwxmb] Clearly, the counting of votes on computers on the raised platform meets that definition and clearly Chris Thomas is denying challengers that right.
Which again begs the question asked in our earlier report: what are Detroit election officials trying to hide? The blockbuster new MC4EI report, “TCF Timeline: the 2020 General Election in Detroit” shows in painstaking detail that certain Democrats and election personnel colluded to illegally discriminate against GOP and non-partisan challengers, violating their rights under Michigan election law. This was done in a systematic, coordinated fashion, in which…
…every violation of procedure, every bending of the rules, every winking at infractions and every official lie was squarely in favor of the Democrat candidates. Aggressive party operatives were assisted by supposedly neutral election workers and, in many cases, election officials, despite the fact that all are sworn to impartiality in their conduct of the vote count. Ironically, the blatant illegality was protected by a systemic lack of enforcement of Michigan’s election laws, which were themselves found wanting. The entire debacle serves as an indictment of both parties’ failure to reform weak election laws, which has greatly facilitated fraud.
It has been two years now since the 2020 election but it is clear that Michigan citizens have not “moved on” from the disastrous 2020 General Election. “11/3” remains a contentious issue and one that can only be resolved after a full accounting of these highly troubling and stubborn facts and the lame official explanations, that provoke more questions than they provide plausible answers. A thorough investigation by authorities with subpoena power and a full forensic audit conducted by a truly impartial, independent and qualified body is imperative, as time is running short to restore election integrity in the State of Michigan. This should have been done long before now as we head into the mid-term elections.
Here is a link to Michigan Citizens for Election Integrity’s blockbuster report: “TCF Timeline: the 2020 General Election in Detroit”
[See affidavits of Chris Thomas, Jason Humes and G. Klein Preston, IV Esq.]