As voters cast ballots largely without incident on Tuesday afternoon, former president Donald Trump took to social media to declare that a minor, already rectified problem with absentee balloting in Detroit was “REALLY BAD.”
“Protest, protest, protest,” he wrote just before 2:30 p.m.
Unlike in 2020, when similar cries from the then-president drew thousands of supporters into the streets — including to a tabulating facility in Detroit and later to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — this time, no one showed up.
After two years of promises from Trump and his supporters that they would flood polls and counting stations with partisan watchers to spot alleged fraud, after unprecedented threats lodged against election workers, after calls to ditch machines in favor of hand counting and after postings on internet chat groups called for violent action to stop supposed cheating, a peaceful Election Day drew high turnout and only scattered reports of problems.
Election officials said they believed the relative normalcy resulted from a combination of concerted effort on the part of well-prepared poll workers and voters, as well as the fact that some of Trump’s loudest supporters were less potent than they had claimed. The basic dynamics of a midterm election — which always draw less passion than presidential contests and in which voters do not rally around a single candidate — played a role as well.
Then there was the Trump factor. The 45th president no longer held the megaphone of the White House, or even Twitter, to carry his message to supporters in real time. And the election results suggest the number of people inclined to respond to Trump’s exhortations has continued to fall since he lost the 2020 election.
“Our democracy is more resilient than people have given it credit for,” said Adam Wit, clerk of Michigan’s Harrison Township and president of the state’s association of municipal clerks.
Wit said election workers helped counter suspicion in the community by throwing open their doors before Election Day to explain how the ballot counting system operates, using social media to educate voters and holding public information sessions. “Clerks did a lot to restore confidence,” he said.
Officials also reacted far more quickly than they did in 2020 to disinformation, using social media to snuff out embers of baseless accusations and rumors before they sparked wildfires.
Within an hour of Trump’s post about the alleged problem with absentee ballots, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) responded on Twitter, directing her comment squarely at the former president.
“This isn’t true,” she wrote. “Please don’t spread lies to foment or encourage political violence in our state. Or anywhere. Thanks.” [Continue reading…]