US election 2020: Tension as 'poll watchers' demand to be let in to Detroit count

·2-min read

You could see the tension even before I'd entered the counting hall in Detroit. A heated group gathered at the entrance to the building were being told to stand back by officials and the police.

One official warned me the atmosphere was "dicey" - explaining the crowd of people trying to get in were "poll watchers" or "poll challengers" as they're known.

These people monitor the counting and are often from the opposing political party. "There's a lot of posturing going on," he told me.

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At a second internal entrance to the counting hall, another group is also trying to get access. Some are angry and a few are beginning to shout.

In the short time since we've been here police have escorted at least three people out of the hall to cheers and clapping. They're being thrown out for intimidating vote counters.

Officials have started covering windows in the hall to try to prevent the crowd outside from disturbing the counting - some responded by banging on the windows and officials from the opposing side have been tearing the covers down.

William Hartmann from the Wayne County Board of Canvassers is here to monitor the integrity of the election for the Republicans.

He explains to me that all parties have poll watchers in the room observing the counting: "Every political group is allowed 134 challengers present."

He says: "They say that we're at capacity now and those people are still outside. The Republicans can come in and monitor.

"The issue is they're not counting the people coming in and going out so how can you know how many people are in and how many people are out?"

Since we've been here the Trump campaign has filed a lawsuit with a Michigan court to halt the counting until what they deem to be meaningful access is granted to observe counting here.

Michigan is projected for Joe Biden and the Trump campaign is now alleging wrongdoing. Meanwhile we're watching Detroit police escorting Republican poll watchers from the counting hall for intimidation.