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Detroiters Affronted By Trump's Voter Fraud Claims

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

An unprecedented battle is taking place in Michigan. President Trump's campaign has made numerous false claims of fraud in the state's voting, and now he's working to subvert the results in the state's presidential race. Republicans in Wayne County initially refused to certify the vote in heavily Democratic Detroit before claiming they were bullied into approving it. And then Trump called GOP leaders of the state legislature to the White House, and now the state and national GOP are calling on Michigan officials to delay certifying the election results.

As Quinn Klinefelter of member station WDET reports, the situation is producing strong reactions in the Detroit area both for and against Trump's actions.

QUINN KLINEFELTER, BYLINE: At a dry cleaners near busy Woodward Avenue, Detroiter Gerard Mosby throws clean clothes into his car. But Moseby says the efforts of Republicans on the Wayne County Board of canvassers to throw out votes cast by the majority-Black population in Detroit has left him feeling very dirty.

GERARD MOSBY: We fought hard for our voting rights, and here we are. All he want to do is just cancel it. And then you've got someone on the certification board saying, well, let's just not count the Detroit vote. I mean, that's dog whistle for Black all the way across the world. Everybody knows that. So it's just not right.

KLINEFELTER: Mosby says, to him, it feels like more than an affront to Detroiters. It feels like a blow against Democracy itself.

MOSBY: If you can go to a voting poll, vote, and they say, oh, well, we didn't like the outcome, so we just going to throw that out - no, that's not democracy. We just don't have one.

KLINEFELTER: Standing nearby, Eleanor Parnell says she voted early, before Election Day, so she could ensure her vote was counted. She says she wonders why the president is vilifying mail-in votes now when he seemed to have no problem with them four years ago.

ELEANOR PARNELL: Nobody fussed for Michigan when Trump won in '16. And he shouldn't be trying to take away our vote that we turned Michigan blue in 2020.

KLINEFELTER: A few blocks away on the Wayne State University campus, college student J.J. Kalapodis predicts if Trump successfully overturns the voting results in cities like Detroit, violence could easily follow.

JJ KALAPODIS: That would cause riots. I mean, America, let alone the world, would kind of erupt in chaos.

KLINEFELTER: It's a different story roughly a dozen miles away in neighboring Macomb County. Trump flipped the county red in 2016 and won it again this year, even as he lost the state by more than 150,000 votes. At a liquor store in the city of Sterling Heights, smack in the center of the county, Nick Yousif works the counter. He says he's questioned the voting results in Detroit since Election Day.

NICK YOUSIF: I mean, I went to sleep. Trump was winning Michigan. I woke up three hours ago, Biden was leading by, like, 100,000 votes. That only happened in three hours. I don't know how is that even possible? Should be, like, a second view of it - just do whatever it takes to make sure it was actually legitimate.

KLINEFELTER: Outside the store, Lisa Kashat has questions, too. She says she saw almost nothing but Trump signs and bumper stickers before the election. And she says she believes the president's unsubstantiated claims of fraud.

LISA KASHAT: I think that they falsified the votes. I think that they weren't fair the way that they counted. And then the mail and things, they supposedly found a bunch of Trump votes in the garbage or somewhere that weren't counted for, from what I heard. I don't know. I guess I read things online. I don't know if it's true or not. But I think that they need to recount. I think he needs to fight for it.

KLINEFELTER: But time is running out for Trump in Michigan. The state board of canvassers is currently set to certify the votes in all of Michigan on Monday. That board includes a Republican whose wife was among those that filed an affidavit in a Trump lawsuit claiming votes were not counted properly in Detroit.

For NPR News, I'm Quinn Klinefelter in Detroit.

(SOUNDBITE OF YELLOWJACKET'S "GROCERY CHOPPIN'") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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