Does a newly discovered video show late-night deliveries of illegal ballots in Detroit, Michigan? No, that's not true: The ballots were legal votes. The 8 p.m. Election Day deadline was for casting ballots not counting them. The Michigan secretary of state's office told Lead Stories that what took place was "standard and appropriate practice."
The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published by The Gateway Pundit on February 5, 2021. The article, which was titled "Exclusive: The TCF Center Election Fraud -- Newly Discovered Video Shows Late Night Deliveries of Tens of Thousands of Illegal Ballots 8 Hours After Deadline," opened:
On Tuesday, November 3rd President Trump was ahead of Joe Biden in the swing state of Michigan by over 100,000 votes. This appeared to be another solid win for President Trump in Michigan with a greater margin than his 2016 victory. The ballot counting in Detroit, Michigan on election night took place at the TCF Center, formerly known as Cobo Hall.
Users on social media saw this title, description and thumbnail:
Exclusive: The TCF Center Election Fraud - Newly Discovered Video Shows Late Night Deliveries of Tens of Thousands of Illegal Ballots to Michigan Arena
By Cassandra Fairbanks and Jim Hoft On Tuesday, November 3rd President Trump was ahead of Joe Biden in the swing state of Michigan by over 100,000 votes. This appeared to be another solid win for President Trump in Michigan with a greater margin than his 2016 victory. The ballot counting in Detroit, Michigan on election...
The article continued:
At least three election observers testified in sworn affidavits that they witnessed vehicles delivering fraudulent ballots to the TCF Center early in the morning on November 4th.
It included video that showed a white van arriving at the TCF Center. Boxes were unloaded from the back and wheeled away. Dramatic music played throughout parts of the video, adding to the suggestion that something untoward was happening.
The article claimed the video was proof of election fraud.
While the article may very well be correct in identifying the objects taken from the van as ballots, it is not correct in asserting that those ballots were illegal. They were legal votes that had been cast before the 8 p.m. Election Day deadline.
Note that the deadline is for casting votes not counting them. Absentee ballots can arrive at counting boards, such as the TCF Center, after 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Lead Stories reached out to the secretary of state's office in Michigan to ask about the article's claims. A spokeswoman wrote back that what took place was "standard and appropriate practice." She pointed us to the office's website, which offers the following explanation:
In many larger jurisdictions, absentee ballots that arrived on Election Day were marked as received and put through security checks at clerk offices prior to being brought to absent voter counting boards. If a ballot arrived at a clerk's office at 8 p.m., it may not move through the process and be sent to the counting board for several hours. This is why, in cities including Detroit, ballots arrived at counting boards several hours after polling places had closed.
Additional support for the case that the ballots were legal can be found in a sworn affidavit by Christopher Thomas, Michigan's former director of elections. You can read his affidavit here; Thomas's part starts on page 69. Regarding the delivery of ballots to the TCF Center, he wrote:
Ballots are delivered to the TCF Center after they are processed at the Department of Elections main office on West Grand Boulevard. On election day, ballots are received from the post office and the satellite offices. It takes several hours to properly process ballots received on election day.
The ballots delivered to the TCF Center had been verified by the Detroit City Clerk's staff prior to delivery in a process prescribed by Michigan law.
He specifically addressed several deliveries, noting the final one, consisting of some 16,000 ballots, took place early in the morning of November 4, 2020. Thomas concluded:
It would have been impossible for any election worker at the TCF Center to count or process a ballot for someone who was not an eligible voter or whose ballot was not received by the 8:00 p.m. deadline on November 3, 2020.
Thomas's account and expertise were cited repeatedly in an opinion from Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Kenny, who denied a request to delay the certification of election results in a lawsuit that had alleged fraud. Kenny wrote:
Plaintiffs rely on numerous affidavits from election challengers who paint a picture of sinister fraudulent activities occurring both openly in the TCF Center and under the cloak of darkness. The challengers' conclusions are decidedly contradicted by the highly-respected former State Elections Director Christopher Thomas who spent hours and hours at the TCF Center November 3rd and 4th explaining processes to challengers and resolving disputes.
Later in his opinion, Kenny was even more pointed, writing:
Plaintiffs' interpretation of events is incorrect and not credible.
Similarly, Lead Stories finds the article published by The Gateway Pundit to be incorrect and not credible. The ballots delivered to the TCF Center were legal votes.
NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes thegatewaypundit.com as:
A partisan conservative website that regularly publishes hoaxes, conspiracy theories, and unsubstantiated claims, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.