By: - November 4, 2020 8:28 am

Laina G. Stebbins graphic for election 2020

Good morning and welcome to Day 2 our our Election Week coverage! The Michigan Advance will be providing live updates throughout the day on turnout, election results and more.

3 years ago

Vote counting winds down in Detroit 

By: - 8:14 pm

The counting of absentee ballots appears to be winding down at TCF Center in Detroit, the city’s election voting count site. Fewer than 1,500 ballots have yet to be fully processed and recorded. Among those are about 1,000 ballots from military personnel from Detroit. There are about four tables that are still active in the vote counting process. 

Meanwhile, there are about 100 protesters outside of the convention center with a considerable number of Detroit police, both outside and inside of the site. Not all demonstrators outside are Trump supporters trying to stop the count. Michigan United, a progressive organization, also had people at TCF Center. 

It is not clear whether Detroit election officials will announce results this evening. 

Last updated: 8:17 pm

3 years ago

Outside Capitol, group gathers to demand all votes are counted

By: - 8:01 pm

Nearly 200 people gathered on the front lawn of the state Capitol building Wednesday night for a “Count Every Vote” vigil while election results continue to roll in across the state.

Speakers at the vigil took the stage to raise spirits about the election, talk about issues like Black Lives Matter and to demand that every vote be counted.

“I need to be with my people. I need them to know I see them and I stand with them. And it’s important that we get to know each other and build with each other first,” Rennee White, a 26-year-old activist from Detroit said to the crowd. “Our votes can be counted for. Period. Our votes can mean something because we helped our people.”

When the results came through that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden won Michigan, attendees broke out in applause.

Biden is currently ahead of President Donald Trump by more than 120,000 votes in Michigan. 

But Trump baselessly questioned the legitimacy of Michigan and other states where he was falling behind in votes once absentee ballots were counted. 

Trump’s campaign said Wednesday that it filed suits to stop counting ballots in Michigan and Pennsylvania, saying that the team did not have “meaningful access” to the counting process. 

But election workers pressed on in Michigan and continue to count ballots. 

3 years ago

GOP protesters try to disrupt count in Detroit, CNN calls Michigan for Biden

By: and - 4:19 pm

As President Trump’s campaign announced it would file a lawsuit to stop ballot counting in Michigan, some GOP protesters Wednesday afternoon tried to get into the TCF Center in Detroit where votes are being tallied. Protesters banged on the windows, shouting, “Let us in! Let us in!” and “Stop the count! Stop the count!”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leads Trump by 61,235 votes with 99% reporting. CNN called Michigan for Biden at 4:15 p..m. While he vowed at a press conference this afternoon to be a president “for all Americans,” he said people “will not be bullied.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Flint drive-in rally with former President Barack Obama, Oct. 31, 2020 | Andrew Roth

“No one is going to take our democracy away from us,” Biden said. “Not now, not ever.”

Michigan GOP Chair Laura Cox was present. At least two emails went out earlier in the day looking for GOP poll challengers. Republican and Democratic observers have been present at the site since Monday. One of the contacts was Mary Shinkle, who’s married to Norm Shinkle, a Republican on the Board of State Canvassers responsible for certifying election results.

Detroit is a heavily Democratic and African American city.

Tim Griffin, an observer from Lynchburg, Va., who declined to state his political affiliation, call the vote counting process in Detroit’s TCF Center as “rigged and fraudulent.”

“The statue says that the process is supposed to have one Democrat and one Republican [at each table] and that just not has taken place for three days in a row,” Griffin said.

Chris Thomas, the former state Bureau of Elections chief who’s served under Democrats and Republicans, said the process has been fair.

The Trump campaign said it will file a similar suit in Pennsylvania, which has roughly 1 million votes left to count. It also wants a recount in Wisconsin, which has been called for Biden

Last updated: 5:07 pm

3 years ago

Welch and McCormack victories flip the state’s Supreme Court

By: - 2:19 pm

After Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack secured her seat for a second term and Elizabeth Welch, a Grand Rapids attorney, declared victory Wednesday afternoon, the state’s highest court looks to have flipped, according to unofficial election results.

Ballots are still being counted in cities across the state, but McCormack and Welch, both Democratic nominees, have flipped the seven-member court which has held a 4-3 GOP-nominated majority since 2010.

There were two seats on the ballot Tuesday. Democrats and Republicans nominated two candidates apiece, although the seats appear on the nonpartisan ballot. Justice Stephen Markman, a Republican nominee, is retiring due to age limits for judges, leaving a second seat open.

McCormack’s victory was called earlier on Wednesday with nearly 2 million votes, 32% of the votes, and Welch has nearly 1.3 million votes, 20% of the votes, with 86% of precincts reporting.

“My reelection to the Michigan Supreme Court is a victory for the people across the state who believe, as I do, that the courtroom is a place where being right is more important than being popular or powerful,” McCormack said in a statement Wednesday morning. “I’m proud that their votes are being counted and their voices are being heard.”

Republican nominee Mary Kelly, a former St. Clair County prosecutor, trailed behind in third place with just over 1.1 million votes, 18% of the votes. Coming in fourth was Judge Brock Swartzle with 938,805 votes or 14.5%.

“I launched this campaign because I believe the Michigan Supreme Court must serve all people,” Welch said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “I am eager to join the chief justice and her colleagues in their important work of addressing challenges within our criminal justice system and their work toward ensuring everyone has equal access to our courts.”

3 years ago

Benson: 100K+ ballots still need to be counted

By: - 12:40 pm

Over 100,000 outstanding ballots — most from absentee voters — have yet to be counted in Michigan, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced during a press update Wednesday.

Benson again urged patience for the state’s final results. An unofficial tally could be available by the end of the day, but the official tabulation will likely be finalized within the “next 24 hours.”

Jocelyn Benson | Ken Coleman photo

Jurisdictions with tens of thousands of still-outstanding ballots include big cities like Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and others, which could be good news for Democrats still fighting tight races like that of U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) vs. Republican John James.

Benson also noted, once again, that she and election clerks had been urging the GOP-led state Legislature for more than a year to extend Michigan’s ballot preprocessing laws.

Currently, state law requires that clerks may only start processing ballots on Election Day itself. With historic early turnout like Michigan has experienced — 3.2 million absentee voters, according to Benson — that rule inevitably leads to a lag in getting final numbers.

“Our state Legislature chose not to make that change to our laws, and here we are in Michigan, where our counting process is continuing long after the polls have closed,” Benson said. She added that clerks are working hard to make sure every Michigander’s vote is counted.

3 years ago

Amash says Trump’s election night speech was ‘dishonest and despotic’

By: - 12:01 pm

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (L-Cascade Twp.) criticized President Donald Trump early Wednesday morning after Trump claimed he won his reelection. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is currently ahead in the popular vote and Electoral College.

That was one of the most dishonest and despotic speeches ever given by a president of the United States,” Amash tweeted.

Amash, who is retiring from Congress at the end of this term, left the Republican Party last year and is now a Libertarian. He voted for Trump’s impeachment last winter. 

Trump took the stage Wednesday with millions of votes still uncounted and  claimed he has won a number of the hotly contested states, including Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. None of those states have been called by media outlets as of noon Wednesday.

When Trump gave his speech, he was leading in Michigan, but Biden is now winning with 96% reporting and absentee votes still being counted in historically Democratic areas, like Detroit and Flint.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Wednesday morning there are still about 100,000 votes left to be counted in these areas.

Trump also called for those states to stop counting votes and said he would bring the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, his campaign wants votes to continue to be counted in Arizona, a state several media outlets have called for Biden.

We’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop,” Trump said, although polls were already closed. 

It was well known before the election that it may take longer than usual to count votes this year because of voter turnout and a record number of absentee ballots. Official vote counts never come on Election Day.

Trump falsely claimed this is “a fraud on the American public.”

3 years ago

Natural resources funding and electronic data proposals on track to pass overwhelmingly

By: - 11:44 am

Two statewide proposals placed on Tuesday’s general election ballot by the Michigan Legislature are on track to pass with wide margins. 

Proposal 1 had 3,489,349 “yes” votes and 658,096 “no” votes as of 11:25 a.m. Wednesday, with 82% of votes counted, according to the Associated Press (AP). It revises the state Constitution to allow money from oil and gas mining on state-owned lands to be accrued in state land conservation funds and used for various parks and recreation projects.

Proposal 2 looks to be on track to pass by an even wider margin, with the AP reporting it had 3,765,764 “yes” votes and 475,979 “no” votes at 11:25 a.m. It asks Michigan voters if the state Constitution should be amended to add requirements that law enforcement officers obtain a search warrant before they can access a person’s electronic data and communications.

Both proposals received a significant amount of bipartisan support. A coalition of more than 70 environmental, conservation, business, community and labor organizations lent their support to the campaign effort Vote Yes on Proposal 1 for Michigan Water, Wildlife and Parks.

Conan Smith, the president and CEO of the Michigan Environmental Council, said in a statement that voters sent a “decisive message with the overwhelming support” for Proposal 1.

“Michiganders understand the importance of spending time in nature and this victory guarantees an increase in opportunities for outdoor recreation across the state, something we should all celebrate,” Smith said.

“This is a victory for Michiganders in every corner of the state – from the U.P. to Detroit,” said Becca Maher, the campaign manager for Vote Yes.

“With the passage of Proposal 1, voters sent a clear message to Lansing – we must prioritize protecting our natural resources and conserving and creating access to our outdoor spaces, now and for future generations,” Maher said in a statement. 

Proposal 1 will do the following:

  • Allow the State Parks Endowment Fund to continue receiving money from sales of oil and gas from state-owned lands to improve, maintain and purchase land for state parks, and for fund administration, until its balance reaches $800 million.
  • Require subsequent oil and gas revenue from state-owned lands to go into the Natural Resources Trust Fund.
  • Require at least 20% of SPEF annual spending go toward state park improvement.
  • Require at least 25% of NRTF annual spending go toward parks and public recreation areas and at least 25% toward land conservation.

Proposal 2 will do the following:

  • Prohibit unreasonable searches or seizures of a person’s electronic data and electronic communications.
  • Require a search warrant to access a person’s electronic data or electronic communications, under the same conditions currently required for the government to obtain a search warrant to search a person’s house or seize a person’s things.

3 years ago

Republicans appear to retain control of state House

By: - 11:37 am

Republicans will likely retain control of the Michigan House of Representatives, according to unofficial returns. 

Democrats would have needed a net gain of at least four seats to win control of the chamber — but more likely, they would need five, as state Rep. Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit) may have sided with Republicans.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering), who could not run for re-election due to term limits, said in a statement that “the people of Michigan have spoken loud and clear – they want two more years of House Republican leadership at their state Capitol.”

“House Republicans have the best plan of action to lead our state forward, and we have a proven track record of turning those plans into tangible results over the past 10 years,” Chatfield said. 

House Minority Leader Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills), who also is term-limited, said Democrats are waiting on a final vote count.

“During the campaign, candidates had their say, and now voters must have their say. An accurate count of every eligible vote is more important than a quick count. It’s important that election administrators take the necessary time to get it right,” Greig said. “Only election administrators can officially determine the winners after the ballots are counted accurately. Michiganders made an extraordinary effort to vote and deserve to have each and every one of their ballots counted.”

Democrats appear to have picked up at least two seats, as Democrat Christine Morse has defeated Republican Bronwyn Haltom in the 61st House District in Kalamazoo County. In Oakland County, Democrat Kelly Breen has beaten Republican Chase Turner in the 38th House District.

But Republicans also flipped at least two seats. Republican David Martin knocked off Rep. Sheryl Kennedy (D-Davison) in the 48th Republican Timothy Beesen beat Rep. Brian Elder (D-Bay City) in the 96th.

Republicans were also successful in several battleground districts. 

John Roth, a Republican, looks to have beaten Dan O’Neil, a Democrat, in the 104th House District in the Traverse City area. Rep. Pauline Wendzel (R-Watervliet) appears to have fended off a challenge from Chokwe Pitchford, a Democrat, in the 79th House District in Southwest Michigan. 

Julia Pulver, a Democrat challenging Rep. Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Twp.), conceded the 40th District race in Oakland County on Wednesday morning. 

Republicans maintaining control of both legislative chambers could have sweeping effects for Michigan, especially in terms of COVID-19 pandemic policies. 

New district lines for the state House of Representatives will be drawn by an independent redistricting commission, rather than by the Legislature itself, ahead of the 2022 midterms under a ballot proposal passed by Michigan voters in 2018.

3 years ago

Detroit has 25K more absentees to count

By: and - 11:17 am

Chris Thomas, a the former state Bureau of Elections chief and current consultant to Detroit clerk’s office, said moments ago that about 25,000 absentee ballots still need to be counted at the TCF Center in Detroit, a heavily Democratic area.

Vote processing in Detroit’s TCF Center | Ken Coleman photo

With 96% reporting in Michigan, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has 2,582,814 votes to President Donald Trump’s 2,548,672.

GOP U.S. Senate nominee John James has 2,544,112 votes to 2,522,717 for U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.).

3 years ago

Dem, GOP observers review Detroit vote count as nation waits

By: - 10:15 am

As votes in Detroit are being processed on Wednesday morning at TCF Center, dozens of observers from the Democrat and Republican parties on the floor watching as ballots are counted. Dozens of tables have been set up in one of the convention center’s ballrooms.

Votes in Detroit may play a significant role in the presidential election result for the state and perhaps the nation. About 143,000 absentee ballots have been processed. About 35,000 still need to be processed.  

Sam Harris, a GOP observer, said on Wednesday that the process is “flawed.” He said that there are not enough Republican observers to be positioned at each table.

“We don’t have enough people,” Harris said. “There is supposed to be one [Republican observer] at every table.” 

Referring to Republicans, Ned Staebler, a Democratic observer, said that there are people in the ballroom to create a disturbance. 

“Unfortunately, I think that there are people here who are interested in slowing down the process instead of representing the intention of the voters,” Staebler said. “And that’s a real shame.” 

Both Harris and Staebler said that the process, now in its third day, has been carried out without much contention. 

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey has not provided an update Wednesday morning. But did address the media on Tuesday evening.

Last updated: 10:27 am

3 years ago

SOS: Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids still don’t have complete results

By: - 9:41 am

In a tweet shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson reported that recently updated and reported results now include absentee ballots in Livonia and Dearborn.

However, Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids still have not reported complete results. In the presidential race, Democratic Joe Biden nominee has pulled into a slight lead over Republican President Donald Trump, with 94% reporting and many absentee ballots left outstanding.

Benson also reposted her message from Monday: “No matter how long it takes, Michigan citizens can be certain that their ballots will be counted.”

3 years ago

Here’s what we know about races for Congress

By: - 8:28 am

As votes continue to be counted across Michigan, several U.S. House seats have been called by the Associated Press by Wednesday morning. 

In the 6th District in West Michigan, which Democrats hoped to flip, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) has been declared the winner over state Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo).

Three other closely contested races have not been called by AP. In the 8th, freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) faces Republican Paul Junge. Freshman Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester) is up against Republican Eric Esshaki in the 11th. And in the open 3rd, it’s Democrat Hillary Scholten vs. Republican Peter Meijer. Current U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (L-Cascade Twp.) is retiring.

The House will have a new member in the red 10th District. Republican Lisa McClain defeated Democrat Kimberly Bizon in the seat left open by retiring U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden).

Several incumbents in safe seats have been declared winners: U.S. Reps. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) in the 14th, Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) in the 13th, Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) in the 12th, John Moolenaar (R-Midland) in the 4th, Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) in the 1st, Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.) in the 9th, Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) in the 2nd and Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) in the 7th.  

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