Witness on Verge of Tears Testifying About Intimidation, Harassment at Detroit Vote Processing Center
Witness on Verge of Tears Testifying About Intimidation, Harassment at Detroit Vote Processing Center

By Melanie Sun

Detroit local Jessy Jacob was on the verge of tears on Dec. 2 as she testified during a Lansing, Michigan, hearing about the intimidation and harassment she experienced while working as a ballot processor for Wayne County in the November election.

“They treated me like a criminal, humiliated me, harassed me,” Jacob said in her witness statement as she appeared alongside Trump campaign lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis. “It was so bad.”

The public hearing was convened by the state’s Senate Oversight Committee after the state’s Board of Canvassers, made up of two Democrats and two Republicans, “unanimously asked this legislature to look into issues that have arisen in this election and to hear public testimony,” Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan), committee chair, told those gathered at the proceedings.

“We are fulfilling the board’s request by holding this hearing,” he said. “We have a responsibility as legislators to ensure trust in voting results.”

Jacob, a Detroit resident of 34 years, told the room that she had been marginalized by election officials on the morning of Nov. 4 because she refused to backdate absentee ballots, which, according to state law, had to have been received by Nov. 3 at 9 p.m. to be counted.

“I couldn’t do anything, because when I am entering the ballot, I couldn’t lie about the date,” a visibly distraught Jacob said, after explaining that she had been told to enter ballots as received on Nov. 2 so they could be counted.

She said she learned from another election worker that staff had been processing ballots all night, as fast as they could, at Detroit’s downtown convention hall, the TCF center, where many of the concerns over how absentee ballots were counted have been raised.

“So basically, what they were doing is entering all these ballots into the QVF [qualified voter file] so they can count these ballots—that’s what I thought,” Jacob said.

“But they were not following the procedure,” the most concerning of which was the opened ballot envelopes, with some having no postage stamp and a signature that didn’t match, she said.

She told the hearing that according to the state manual for ballot processors, ballots once opened were to be immediately verified by a signature match and checked off against the polling book, so as to accurately record the date they were received.

Then there was the problem with the ballots. When she started processing her first ballot, she immediately noticed that the ballot was invalid—it had been issued on Nov. 3, after the deadline for absentee ballot issuance, which was 4 p.m. on Nov. 2.

“So it was issued on Nov. 3, Election Day. It was issued, received, everything, on Nov. 3. Then I checked whether that voter is newly registered. No, he was not registered on Nov. 3. He was registered sometime in 2010—10 years ago,” Jacob said. “You are not supposed to issue absentee ballots on Election Day to already registered voters.”

She said she raised the problems with election officials in charge, and soon realized that no one else at the facility was following the process she believed was required to ensure only legal ballots were accepted.

She was then told by Chris Thomas, the Senior Elections Advisor for the City of Detroit, “She’s right, but why should we punish voters for a processor’s mistake?”

Thomas on Nov. 6 had released a statement saying he had been “saddened to see unfounded allegations being made about the manner in which clerical errors were handled by the Detroit absent voter counting board.

“The accusations are wrong and reveal the person making them doesn’t know Michigan’s election process,” he said.

He went on to say that ballots were processed late because, at satellite offices, the ballot envelopes were not being accepted according to the Absent Voter Poll List. He said in an affidavit that the measures were to correct a clerical error.

Jacob also said that she had been told by a representative from the Michigan Department of State’s Bureau of Elections: “I don’t need you here. I don’t need any of your help. Get out of here.”

Jacob said: “I really want to serve the city of Detroit, very truthfully and sincerely, that’s what I was doing all these 34 years I’ve been working with the city. My whole family, we’re proud that we’re, both me and my husband, both are working for the city of Detroit. I never expected this kind of treatment. It was really, really bad.”

“I had to go through this, so inhumane,” she said, before she had to stop speaking, holding back tears.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat and the state’s top election official, tried to reassure residents about the integrity of the state’s counting process for absentee ballots on Nov. 6, saying, “There were certainly a lot of eyes on the process.”

“I’m proud of how transparent and secure our process has been,” she said in response to early affidavits from GOP poll challengers who testified that they hadn’t been allowed sufficient access for oversight and that their challenges about ballot processing errors were not being taken seriously. “I know that the truth is on our side here.”

Jacob told the hearing that she didn’t see a single Republican observer in the hall on Nov. 4.

Giuliani argued that the hundreds of witnesses and expert affidavits now provided to the state held the power of evidence to support President Donald Trump’s concerns about election integrity.

“What we’ve heard is that there are unsubstantiated allegations of fraud. … What began as unfounded allegations of fraud, then it became unsubstantiated allegations of fraud, then it became allegations of fraud but not big enough to overturn an election, and then it became allegations of fraud that really couldn’t be investigated between now and the election but are going to require substantial investigation after inauguration. So it’s changed a great deal,” he said.

Jacob ended her witness statement by telling the committee that she was “so thankful” for America and all the opportunities it had given her husband and three children.

“I am who I am because of this nation. I really love this country, and I hope this will help this nation. That’s the only reason I am here,” she said.

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