John James refuses to concede in Michigan Senate race citing voting irregularities, suppression

Michigan GOP Senate candidate John James refused Thursday to concede to incumbent Democratic Sen. Gary Peters after he alleged voter suppression and other irregularities as ballot counting continued.

James, a U.S. Army combat vet and former Apache helicopter pilot, made the allegations amid a chaotic situation outside a vote-count room at downtown Detroit’s TCF Center where mail-in ballots are being collected and tallied.

“While Senator Peters is currently ahead, I have deep concerns that millions of Michiganders may have been disenfranchised by a dishonest few who cheat,” he said in a statement Thursday.

A day after Tuesday’s general election, officials barred people from entering the room while installing large pieces of cardboard over windows so the public could not see in.

A consultant for James’ campaign, Stuart Sandler, who was at the center told Fox News the candidate is concerned about “a lot of irregularities.” He added that James looked like he was on a glide path to victory before tens of thousands of ballots were dumped in the middle of the night.

“There were all kinds of chicanery, including ballots that came in reportedly in the middle of the night at 3:30 a.m. – 35,000 ballots that were deceptively brought in,” Sandler said.

“There have been a lot of irregularities and a lack of integrity. They’re not letting challengers in, they’re not letting them get food or water. When they do, they’re not letting them come back. There’s all sorts of disruptions to the process,” he told the network.

More than 5.3 million ballots had been tallied by mid-afternoon Wednesday, with roughly 1 percent of votes remaining.

Sandler claimed that after it looked like his candidate was leading Thursday evening, Mark Brewer, a former Democratic state chairman, showed up at TCF with several busloads filled with attorneys and activists “to disrupt the process.”

“There’s a lack of integrity there. The people of Michigan made their choice and they’ve been trying to disrupt the process. And we’re reviewing our options,” Sandler noted.

“When we heard that there were 5.2 million votes and John James won, we accepted the victory. At that point, additional votes got added, there was a lack of integrity and that’s when we started to realize there was a lack of a challenge to the process. Then we heard about 35,000 votes that came in through a pallet. These all are the irregularities that added up through the day,” he told Fox2 Detroit.

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In an interview with The Associated Press, Brewer, who had been at the TCF Center observing as a volunteer attorney all day, said Republicans were never denied access.

“This is the best absentee ballot counting operation that Detroit has ever had,” he said. “They are counting ballots very efficiently, despite the obstructing tactics of the Republicans.”

A source close to James’ campaign disputed that, however, saying that poll challengers “weren’t even able to get close enough to the ballot for the voter rolls to confirm that the ballots are credible, that people didn’t already vote.”

Previously, the Michigan Secretary of State’s office said officials were only expecting about 2.5 million absentee ballots. However, the source said, by Wednesday morning the total had soared to 5.6 million, with most of those increasing in heavily Democratic places like Detroit.

“And then the Wayne County Clerk (Cathy M. Garrett) … was on CNN this morning, and she didn’t know how many votes were left in Wayne County, which is where Detroit is,” the James campaign source told Fox News. “(Garrett) said multiple different low numbers and CNN even called her out on it.”

The source noted further that state election officials have “no idea” what’s going on and that Republican voters in Detroit are being “disenfranchised.”

Meanwhile, former state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, a registered poll watcher who was at the center, told the network that what he saw was “obfuscation and a complete lack of transparency.”

“We’re being expressly denied the access to the ballot count area, at the most critical time. And you know, it’s very telling,” he told the outlet.

“I can tell you right now, it’s not a free and fair election, and I’ve been watching this for quite a while. So get the word out. [Democrats] are attempting to steal the election, and the best way to go off and fight back on this is to let people know what’s happening,” Colbeck added.

For his part, James said he’ll accept the loss after the discrepancies are addressed.

“When this process is complete, I will of course accept the results and the will of the people, but at this time there is enough credible evidence to warrant an investigation to ensure that elections were conducted in a transparent, legal, and fair manner,” he said.

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Jon Dougherty

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