Republicans have made multiple efforts to disenfranchise voters of color in the state’s largest and majority Black city. (BridgeDetroit file photo by Ralph Jones)

More than a month after the election, voting machine manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems is finding itself repeatedly debunking false and dangerous claims about voter fraud.

After witnesses alleged widespread election fraud during a five-hour testimony before the Michigan House Oversight Committee on Dec. 2, representatives for the company debunked overcounting allegations.

The witnesses’ unverified claims to the state House committee included that thousands of ‘mysterious’ absentee ballots were dropped off from food vans from a Detroit location called the Chicago Warehouse. They alleged this location was “bustling with illegal activity and backdating ballots.” Multiple Republicans also stressed that Democratic poll workers at the TCF Center in Detroit scanned absentee ballots multiple times in tabulation machines.

Detroit has viciously been targeted as a hub for voter fraud. From Republican poll challengers chanting  “stop the count” at the city’s absentee counting board to Republican canvassers willing to certify the election results in every city except Detroit, Republicans have made multiple efforts to disenfranchise voters of color in the state’s largest and majority Black city.

Dominion has been the target of multiple unverified voter fraud allegations. The company has falsely been tied to Democrats like the Clinton Foundation and to competing voting technology firm Smartmatic, even though there is no active partnership between the companies. Dominion was also accused of using vote-switching software, but a hand recount of all paper ballots in Georgia “verified that machine vote totals were reliable and accurate.”

However, a representative for Dominion told BridgeDetroit the allegations about its machines are “false and inaccurate.”

“The bottom line is that there was a clear lack of understanding about how voting systems and elections processes work in some of the comments provided,” the representative said. 

According to its website, Dominion, founded in 2003, is a private American company that provides voting systems in 28 states, including “red” and “blue” jurisdictions and has supported tens of thousands of elections in a nonpartisan fashion.

Claim: Poll workers didn’t ‘discard’ ballots

Paper ballots are fed through high speed tabulators to be tallied in batches of 50. Once the ballots are scanned, they are placed into metal bins so the next batch can be counted. However, if a ballot jams in the tabulator, the entire batch of 50 ballots has to be rescanned before being placed in the metal bin. 

Melissa Carone, a freelance IT worker who said she was contracted by Dominion Voting Systems to “assist with IT during the election,” claimed that when ballots are rescanned because of a jam, a poll worker must hit “discard” on the tabulator’s screen to avoid recounting the same ballots multiple times. On Nov. 10, she filed an affidavit claiming ballots were illegally scanned “countless times without discarding them first.” 

GOP poll challenger Hima Kolanagireddy, CEO of ASCII Group, an IT staffing firm, echoed Carone’s allegations that most of the poll workers did not know what to do when a ballot was jammed in the high-speed tabulator, resulting in a batch being “overcounted.” 

“When a ballot gets jammed, you have an option to ‘discard’ which makes it [tabulation number] zero. But you also have an option to continue,” Kolanagireddy said. “If you say ‘continue tabulating,’ it will add to the 24 or 25 that already got jammed and rescan the entire thing.”

Contrary to the witnesses’ claims, the high speed tabulators do not require a poll worker to hit “discard” to zero out, according to Dominion. 

Kolanagireddy and Carone said the tabulators were jamming “three or four times an hour” and while Kolanagireddy couldn’t guess how many extra votes were counted, Carone alleged the fraud resulted in an extra 30,000 ballots being recounted. 

The majority of Detroit counting boards were off by about four votes or fewer, Bridge Michigan reported. Other counting boards in Wayne County discredited five votes or more. After counting all the discrepancies, about 400 votes did not add up in Detroit, which is nowhere near the 30,000 alleged. 

State Rep. Steven Johnson, R-Wayland, questioned Carone’s claim, asking why the e-poll books, which list the number of voters and ballots cast, were not off by 30,000 votes if the ballots were counted multiple times. 

“We’re not seeing the pollbook off by 30,000 votes. That’s not the case,” Johnson said. “Are we saying the pollbook is either widely off or that they are filling in names?”

Carone, who continuously cut off the state representative and was “shushed” by Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, said it was “wildly off.” 

Dominion Voting Systems explained that the pollbooks were not off by thousands of votes because the tabulation machines do not recount ballots when there is a jam.

“The system application discards automatically when there is a jam,” a company representative said. “Dominion’s tabulators count voter-verified, hard-copy paper ballots that are 100% fully auditable.”

This article is made possible through Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access. This article is available for reprint under the terms of Votebeat’s republishing policy.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *