A “harmless data error” resulted in a glitch at some Detroit polling precincts that incorrectly registered some in-person voters as having already been issued an absentee ballot, the city elections department said. The issue was resolved, and ballot security safeguards are in place to prevent duplicated votes, it said.
Former President Donald Trump, however, baselessly suggested that the error was a sign of voter fraud, and urged his followers on Truth Social to “Protest, Protest, Protest!”
“The Absentee Ballot situation in Detroit in REALLY BAD,” Trump wrote, echoing his false election claims of 2020. “People are showing up to Vote only to be told, ‘sorry, you have already voted.’ This is happening in large numbers, elsewhere as well. Protest, Protest, Protest!”
In a tweet, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson called Trump’s claim untrue and asked the former president to stop spreading “lies to foment or encourage political violence in our state.”
The city elections department explained that some precincts had a problem with the “e-pollbook screen” — short for electronic poll books — that surfaced immediately when polls opened. Electronic poll books, similar to tablets, are used at some precincts in at least 36 states and contain a list of eligible voters, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The electronic poll books were generating ballot numbers for precinct voters that were “identical to ballot numbers being used for absentee voter ballots,” the city elections department said in a statement that was posted on Twitter by an Axios reporter. When that happened, the e-pollbook gave an error message that read: “Ballot # has already been issued as Absentee Voter Ballot,” the department said.
“This message does not mean that the voter who was issued an absent voter ballot was attempting to vote,” the city statement read. “This turned out to be a harmless data error.”
The issue was resolved by “adding an additional letter to the precinct ballot numbers” to distinguish between the absentee ballot and the in-person ballot, according to the city statement.
The statement ended by assuring the public that ballot security measures are in place.
“All safeguards preventing a voter from voting more than one ballot are in place since polls opened at 7:00 a.m. and those safeguards remain in place,” the statement read.
We don’t know how many ballots or precincts were affected by the glitch. We reached out to the city’s elections department and the state’s secretary of state’s office, but didn’t hear back. If we do, we will update this item.
Although there is no evidence of fraud, Trump’s suggestive post on his platform Truth Social soon spread to other social media, including Instagram, where one commenter said: “I hope a war breaks out over the dems stealing the election.”
FactCheck.org does not accept advertising. We rely on grants and individual donations from people like you. Please consider a donation. Credit card donations may be made through our “Donate” page. If you prefer to give by check, send to: FactCheck.org, Annenberg Public Policy Center, 202 S. 36th St., Philadelphia, PA 19104.