Benson refutes GOP leader McDaniel's claims of ballot counting irregularities at TCF Center

"As the canvasses are taking place right now, we are still being prevented from having meaningful access to observe the process," said Ronna McDaniel. 

McDaniel, the chairwoman of the RNC, says there have been serious election irregularities focusing their claims on Detroit and the ballot counting inside TCF Center. That is where they say they've gotten reports of their poll watchers and challengers being intimidated. Their challenges she claims were ignored and even backdating ballots.

"These are serious allegations of changing the dates on ballots and refusing to let people observe in a meaningful way an election of this magnitude," McDaniel said.

McDaniel claims someone she's calling a whistleblower was instructed to enter ballots as being received on or before Election Day, even though she claims the arrival dates of the ballots couldn't be verified.

McDaniel even went as far as claiming senior election advisor to Detroit Chris Thomas instructed workers to do this. 

Thomas debunked the claim explaining a clerical error was made when the ballot envelopes were received in the satellite offices. A date of receipt by the employees was stamped on the envelopes and staff were told to enter that date stamped on the envelope, which is not backdating, Thomas said.

In a full statement Thomas said:

"None of these ballots were received after 8 p.m. on Election Day. Most were received on Monday, November 2nd - the busiest day for the satellite offices.
"This issue was discussed with several Republican challengers. Two challengers were provided a demonstration of the QVF process and they chose not to file a challenge to the individual ballots."

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson

McDaniel also claims a myriad of other irregularities from problematic software to election workers wearing Biden shirts and applauding when Republicans were escorted out. 

GOP election challengers who showed up to Friday's press conference echoed McDaniel's concerns.

"When people keep saying there was an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, they mean the organization," said one challenger. "Not as far as people operating on behalf of the party. Those are different things."

But the ACLU, a neutral observer, says they were aware of no irregularities at TCF - and that the eyes of the world including media members, neutral and partisan challengers and a host of election workers were inside. The possibility of fraud would literally have to happen under the watch of a multitude of eyes.

"The room was open so you could see there were no blockades or processes where people were cordoned off in any of the rooms," said Sharon Dolente, ACLU. "It was a massive rectangle. A wide-open rectangle. And challengers were able to move around and were able to observe the process Workers were able to move around observe the process, and they did."

In response to the claims made by Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, the Michigan Department of State issued responses.

"Michigan’s elections were conducted fairly, effectively, and transparently and are an accurate reflection of the will of Michigan voters," Benson said.

In a statement regarding the TCF Center and lingering concerns that were raised, Benson debunked McDaniel's claims in a statement

"As Detroit officials have stated, hundreds of challengers from both parties were inside their absent voter counting board all afternoon and evening. And even after some left, there were always challengers from both parties in the room. Dozens of reporters were in the room as well. Further, some windows were covered to stop those outside from filming the people and private information in the counting board, while other windows were left uncovered to ensure additional transparency.

"As was stated by Chris Thomas, who as a contractor for the Detroit City Clerk’s Office served as an advisor on the execution of this election and led challenger relations, and who is the former Michigan Director of Elections, who served under both republican and democrat Secretaries of State during his 40-year-tenure with the Bureau of Elections, no ballots were backdated. 

"Rather, a clerical error was made when some ballot envelopes were received in Detroit satellite offices. Although employees stamped a date of receipt on the envelopes, an employee failed to complete the transaction for receiving the ballot by saving that date in the Qualified Voter File. Therefore, at the absent voter counting board, after discussion with Republican challengers who chose not to challenge the process, the staff was instructed to enter that date stamped on the envelope ensuring that no voters were disenfranchised by the clerical error."

Benson also addressed the anomaly of Antrim County in which there was a processing error that resulted in no results Tuesday night. She explained what went wrong and how it was taken care of.

"The erroneous reporting of unofficial results from Antrim county was a result of an accidental error on the part of the Antrim County Clerk. The equipment and software did not malfunction and all ballots were properly tabulated. However, the clerk accidentally did not update the software used to collect voting machine data and report unofficial results.

"Like many counties in Michigan, Antrim County uses the Dominion Voting Systems election management system and voting machines (ballot tabulators.) The county receives programming support from Election Source. Tabulators are programmed to scan hand-marked, paper ballots. When machines are finished scanning the ballots, the paper ballots are retained and a totals tape showing the number of votes for each candidate in each race is printed from the machine.

"In order to report unofficial results, county clerks use election management system software to combine the electronic totals from tabulators and submit a report of unofficial results. Because the clerk did not update software, even though the tabulators counted all the ballots correctly, those accurate results were not combined properly when the clerk reported unofficial results.

"The correct results always were and continue to be reflected on the tabulator totals tape and on the ballots themselves. Even if the error in the reported unofficial results had not been quickly noticed, it would have been identified during the county canvass. Boards of County Canvassers, which are composed of 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans, review the printed totals tape from each tabulator during the canvass to verify the reported vote totals are correct.

"The software did not cause a misallocation of votes; it was a result of user human error. Even when human error occurs, it is caught during county canvasses. It is also completely false that the county had to or will have to hand count all their ballots.

"The ballots were properly counted by the tabulators. The county had to review the printed tabulator results from each precinct, not each individual ballot.

"As with other unofficial results reporting errors, this was an honest mistake and did not affect any actual vote totals. Election clerks work extremely hard and do their work with integrity. They are human beings, and sometimes make mistakes. However, there are many checks and balances that ensure mistakes can be caught and corrected."