‘Brooks Brothers Riot’ Redux: GOP Sends Supporters To Swarm MI Vote-Counting Center

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 04: An election challenger argues with a Detroit Department of Elections employee after being denied access after the capacity for election challengers has been met at the Central Counting Boar... DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 04: An election challenger argues with a Detroit Department of Elections employee after being denied access after the capacity for election challengers has been met at the Central Counting Board in the TCF Center on November 4, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. The amount of election challengers for the absentee ballot counting has reached capacity and members of the Michigan GOP and some nonpartisan members believe that they are being excluded on the basis of party status. President Trump narrowly won Michigan in 2016, and both he and Joe Biden campaigned heavily in the battleground state in 2020. (Photo by Elaine Cromie/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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November 4, 2020 4:03 p.m.

Top officials with the Michigan Republican Party and Donald Trump’s reelection effort in the state urged supporters to swarm a ballot-counting center in Detroit on Wednesday. And it appears the supporters did. 

Observers said the call for pro-Trump forces to show up in person — a fairly obvious callback to the infamous “Brooks Brothers Riot” of the 2000 Florida recount — strained the legitimate ballot-observation process and created a rowdy crowd at the door. Video from the scene showed stand-offs with elections officials, chanting, and general disruption of the vote-counting process. 

The Trump campaign on Wednesday announced that it would be filing a lawsuit alleging that poll challengers weren’t given full enough access to watch the ballot-counting process in Michigan. The campaign said it was seeking to suspend vote counting. 

Around the same time, at the TCF Center in Detroit, Trump supporters heeded calls to rush the location.

“MICHIGAN REPUBLICANS! If you can get to the TCF Center in Detroit go NOW! We need people to watch the vote count,” Sam Ditzhazy, who claims to be a field director for Students for Trump, wrote on Twitter. “They are ‘finding’ votes for Joe. Republicans MUST hold the line.” 

The assertions piggybacked on the President’s own false and misleading claims that Democrats were “stealing” the election — when in fact officials were simply counting ballots that had been cast legitimately but had not yet been tallied.

“Detroit election officials are currently refusing to let the public observe the counting process at the TCF center,” wrote Drew Thompson not long after Ditzhazy’s claim. Thompson is deputy state director for the Michigan division of Trump Victory, the joint fundraising group between the Trump campaign and Republican Party.

“They have padlocked the doors,” Thompson tweeted. “This is a disgrace to the democratic process.” 

“Republican poll challengers blocked from entering the TCF Center in Detroit!” wrote Laura Cox, chair of the Michigan Republican Party. “This is egregious!” 

In reality, according to multiple local reportsauthorities had closed the doors because the room was at capacity. 

Reporter Bisma Parvez shared video of several poll challengers seemingly chanting something — perhaps “stop the count,” which is what the Trump campaign has sued to do.


Former Michigan Democratic party Chair Mark Brewer told Crain’s Detroit Business that there were more than 100 Republican ballot challengers at the TCF Center. 

“They are ill-trained, rude and they don’t know what they’re doing, but they are here,” he said. 

Journalists on the ground showed the pandemonium outside of the vote-counting center — and the disturbances that some were causing inside the room, as well. 

At least one poll challenger, perhaps more, was ultimately removed from the room: 

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