Donald Trump may have alleged election fraud in Detroit, but he received more votes for president than any other Republican in years in the city.
In a speech Thursday from the White House that claimed wholesale fraud nationwide in his election against Democrat Joe Biden, Trump blasted Detroit and Philadelphia as “two of the most politically corrupt places in our country — easily.”
“I wouldn’t say Detroit has the best reputation for election integrity,” Trump said.
Trump made the claims, without citing evidence, days after he significantly improved his performance in Detroit from 2016, while Biden did worse in the city than previous Democrats.
In Tuesday’s election, exit polls nationwide showed African-American voters backed Joe Biden with 87 percent of their vote.
In Detroit, which is 79 percent African American, Biden got 94 percent.
That’s less than Hillary Clinton got in 2016 and less than Barack Obama got in 2008 and 2012. Clinton won by 235,000 votes in Detroit while Biden won by 234,000.
In fact, Trump got 12,654 votes on Tuesday — 5,000 more votes in Detroit than he got in 2016 and far better than Republicans John McCain (8,881 in 2008) and Mitt Romney (who was born in Detroit and received 6,019 votes in 2012) back when the city had tens of thousands more residents and voters.
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Turnout in Detroit this year, unlike elsewhere in the state where it rose 15 percent, was only up less than 1 percent but still below 50 percent of the more than 504,000 registered voters in the city.
“It sounds like [Trump is] grasping at straws,” said state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, D-Detroit, who won a seat Tuesday night on the Detroit Public Schools board of education.
Gay-Dagnogo praised Detroit’s clerk for her handling of an election that resulted in record turnout due in part to high numbers of absentee ballots. She also said the number of Republican poll challengers made the process more complicated, as the volunteers tabulating ballots had to do their work amid social distancing and an extended timeframe caused by the sheer number of ballots.
“This is typical Trump,” she said. “He’s seeking attention. He’s seeking to try and create a problem where there really isn’t one.”
But Detroit has had well-known election problems. In 2016, more than one-third of all Detroit precincts registered more votes than they should have, according to county records.
The review found that 248 of the city’s 662 precincts had irregularities and the news prompted a state audit. If the vote totals in the machines do not match what poll workers tally, the precinct’s results can not be recounted.
A state audit, done under then Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican who is now a state senator, found no evidence of fraud. The audit blamed the problems on poor training and mistakes by poll workers.
In one cited instance, the recount discovered just 50 ballots at a precinct where 306 votes were cast. But during the audit, Johnson’s department accounted for all but one of the 306 votes.
Jocelyn Benson, the Democratic secretary of state now, had made training of poll workers a priority, including in Detroit.