As people headed to the polls to vote in the midterm election on Tuesday, Nov. 8, people online, including former President Donald Trump, claimed some voters in Michigan’s largest city were unable to cast their ballots.
“The Absentee Ballot situation in Detroit is REALLY BAD,” Trump wrote in a post on his social media platform, Truth Social, which was re-shared by others on Twitter. “People are showing up to Vote only to be told, ‘sorry you have already voted.’ This is happening in large numbers, elsewhere as well.”
Another person claimed in a tweet that Detroit residents showed up to polling places only to be turned away because they were told they had already voted via absentee ballots.
Were Detroit residents turned away at the polls after being told they’d already voted absentee?
- Michigan Department of State
- City of Detroit Department of Elections
- Phil Mayor, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan
No, Detroit residents weren’t turned away at the polls after being told they’d already voted absentee.
WHAT WE FOUND
On Election Day, a data error did lead to a glitch that showed some in-person Detroit voters had already been issued an absentee ballot, when that wasn’t the case. But the issue was addressed and eligible voters weren’t turned away from the polls, Michigan officials said.
Some electronic pollbooks, or “e-pollbooks,” in Detroit displayed an error when checking in voters on Tuesday morning that said a number on the ballot was the same as one on an absentee ballot that had already been issued, the Michigan Department of State wrote in a statement.
The error message read, “Ballot # has already been issued as Absentee Voter Ballot,” the City of Detroit Elections Department added in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon.
“This message does not mean that the voter who was issued an absent voter ballot was attempting to vote,” the city’s elections department said in a statement. “This turned out to be a harmless data error.”
Electronic pollbooks allow election inspectors to confirm a voter’s registration and assign a ballot to the voter, automating the typical paper process. They are also used to confirm whether the voter has already been issued or cast an absentee ballot.
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It’s unclear how many precincts were impacted by the issue on Election Day. But poll workers resolved it by adding an additional letter to in-person precinct ballots, distinguishing them from absentee ballots, the city’s elections department said.
“In all circumstances, eligible voters were able to vote,” the state department said.
Attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan monitored the Detroit election throughout the day, participated as volunteers for the non-partisan election protection hotline, and interviewed dozens of poll challengers and election workers, a spokesperson told VERIFY.
"After speaking with multiple precinct chairs who administered in-person voting in Detroit on Election Day, it is clear that a temporary technical error was resolved, and registered voters could cast their ballot to make their voices heard,” Phil Mayor, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan, said in a statement.
Mayor also confirmed that “no voter was able to vote twice as a result of the error, and voters were not prohibited from voting.”
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