For Trump supporters primed to disbelieve defeat, challenging the election was a civic duty

Alexandra Seely, a 27-year-old dental hygienist, had never been in court except to deal with a traffic ticket. Yet days after the presidential election, her name was near the top of a lawsuit alleging widespread vote fraud in Michigan — a lawsuit designed to alter the result of a presidential election.

In a handwritten affidavit, and during a subsequent interview with USA TODAY, Seely described what she saw the day after the election as she monitored vote counting in Detroit as a Republican challenger.

Seely said she’s convinced not just that there was vote fraud in Wayne County, but that an entire election was stolen — despite conclusions to the contrary by judges across the country, intelligence officials, Trump's attorney general, independent observers and election supervisors in states red and blue.

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That Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 4, election workers in a cavernous room at the TCF Center unloaded absentee ballots and fed them into machines. As more ballots were counted, Trump’s lead in Michigan shrank. Things were getting tense.

Seely said she was trying to monitor the count at Table 23. Ballots were brought out in nylon roller bags. A worker would pull one out and scan it, announcing the voter’s name and ballot number. When things matched, the ballot would go into a stack to be tallied.

Seely said she challenged about 10 votes, raising her hand when something “wasn’t right.” One person appeared to have voted twice, she said. At least five ballots wouldn’t scan.

Challenged ballots were supposed to be set aside, Seely said, but inspectors took them away and refused to register her objections on a log, instead claiming they took note on a computer. At one point, she said, an election worker profanely confronted her for getting too close.

In the days after the election, Trump’s allies and attorneys mobilized to stop the counting, delay certification of the results and challenge the legitimacy of ballots. People like Seely provided statements about what they saw, heard and suspected. These statements were the foundation upon which the lawsuits were built.

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