Dec. 9, 2016
What I saw at the Michigan recount
On December 7, 2016, I volunteered as an observer with Recount Michigan 2016. I showed up at 9:00am sharp in the heart of Detroit, in heavily democratic Wayne County, Michigan.
It was a bloodbath.
I did not count a single vote during my entire first four-hour shift.
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.
Every recount table had 1–2 Trump observers present, each one holding written scripts to challenge every single precinct, regardless of the facts.
Trump observers kept reading their challenges, and civic employees kept counting ballots, trying to concentrate on the count. A miscount of one in a thousand could (and did!) disqualify entire precincts from the recount. Thousands of votes and hours of counting were disqualified if one ballot in a thousand was missed amid the chaos in the room.
Why did Detroit and Wayne County — the bluest county in Michigan — have so many Republican lawyers present?
Where did all these Republican lawyers come from? They looked like they walked in straight out of a Brooks Brothers catalog, but they were not there to have a good time.
I can only speak from my own experience, but I wonder — were there similar swarms of Republican lawyers in the red counties, challenging everything?