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Video taken election night doesn’t show illegal activity in Detroit

February 8, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Newly discovered video from election night at the TCF Center in Detroit shows tens of thousands of illegal ballots were delivered 8 hours after the deadline.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The 8 p.m. deadline on Election Day in Michigan was for voters to cast their ballots, not for those ballots to be delivered or counted. In big cities such as Detroit, it can take several hours for ballots to go through security checks before being sent to counting locations. That process is customary and legal, according to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office. 

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THE FACTS: The conservative website The Gateway Pundit is using a new video to recycle old misinformation about Michigan’s presidential election on Nov. 3.

The article published Feb. 5, titled “Exclusive: The TCF Center Election Fraud – Newly Discovered Video Shows Late Night Deliveries of Tens of Thousands of Illegal Ballots 8 Hours After Deadline,” spins a tale of fraudulent ballots delivered in the early hours of the morning on Nov. 4. 

The article quotes Michigan resident Shane Trejo, a writer for the right-leaning website Big League Politics, who claims to have witnessed “thousands of ballots” being delivered to the TCF Center at 3:30 a.m. “well after the 8:00 p.m. deadline for ballots to show up.” 

The article also claims to show “proof of the fraud” on film, sharing a 7-minute video of testimony from Michigan residents clipped together with footage of a white van delivering ballots to the TCF Center for counting early in the morning.

But this article and video don’t show proof of fraud. These false claims are based on a misunderstanding of the ballot deadline and how ballot deliveries work in large jurisdictions such as Detroit.

Contrary to Trejo’s claims, the 8 p.m. deadline on Election Day was for Michigan residents to submit all absentee ballots to clerk offices. They could do so through the mail, in person, or using ballot drop boxes. After that deadline, it can take several hours for ballots to be processed at clerk offices before they are sent to counting boards, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office explained on her website.

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“In many larger jurisdictions, absentee ballots that arrived on Election Day were marked as received and put through security checks at clerk offices prior to being brought to absent voter counting boards,” Benson’s office said. “If a ballot arrived at a clerk’s office at 8 p.m., it may not move through the process and be sent to the counting board for several hours. This is why, in cities including Detroit, ballots arrived at counting boards several hours after polling places had closed.”

“Unfortunately, organizations aligned with President Trump did not seem to know that it is standard practice for absentee ballots to arrive at counting boards several hours after polls have closed,” Benson’s office added.

It’s true that a white van used by the city arrived at the TCF Center to deliver ballots in the early hours of the morning on Nov. 4, according to a sworn affidavit from Christopher Thomas, a former state elections chief who worked at the TCF Center on election night. But there was nothing fraudulent or illegal about that.

Early in the morning on Wednesday, November 4, approximately 16,000 ballots were delivered in a white van used by the city,” Thomas said in his affidavit. “The ballots delivered to the TCF Center had been verified by the City Clerk’s staff prior to delivery in a process prescribed by Michigan law.”

Thomas added that no ballots received after 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 “were ever at the TCF Center.” 

In a Nov. 13 order, Wayne County Circuit Chief Judge Timothy Kenny declined to stop the certification of Detroit-area votes, ruling that allegations of fraud at the TCF Center on election night were “incorrect and not credible.”

Michigan certified its election results in favor of Joe Biden in November, and Biden was sworn inas president on Jan. 20. Election officials from both political parties and international observers have repeatedly stated that the election went well nationwide without serious irregularities.

The Gateway Pundit and Big League Politics did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536