When the election challengers demanded that election workers in Detroit stop counting ballots on Wednesday, some observers drew parallels between their continuing rallying calls and the “Brooks Brothers Uprising” that unfolded during the presidential election two decades ago.
The “Brooks Brothers Riot” occurred in November 2000, about two weeks after election day. That year’s election-which was won by former Republican President George W. Bush, although Democratic candidate Al Gore won the majority of the vote-is remembered as one of the closest presidential races in the history of the United States. A court order ordered Florida election officials to conduct a recount after the election, as both candidates were neck and neck and contradictory news reports on election night called for an early victory for Gore, then Bush.
The riots took place in Florida on November 22 in the middle of the recount. Hundreds of protesters, later identified as paid Republican agents, stormed the Miami-Dade County building where the vote count took place. Those who participated in the chaotic demonstration called on the election workers to stop the counting and urged the participating election officials to relocate and restrict media access. Since Florida was unable to meet the court-set deadline for submitting a verified ballot, it ultimately failed to complete the recount.
The Miami-Dade County Canvassing Board, which, under the mandate of the Florida Supreme Court, directed the recount, cited lack of time and lack of transparency of the recount to the public as reasons for terminating the proceedings. The reference of the uprising to Brooks Brothers alludes to the clothing of the protesters, as they were described primarily as middle-aged men dressed in corporate suits and ties.
Some noted that Wednesday’s demonstration in Detroit bore similarities to the events in South Florida before the Bush election. Demonstrators and apparent supporters of the re-election of President Donald Trump gathered in the city’s TCF center on Wednesday and called for an end to the ballot-by- ballot that is taking place inside.
“Stop the counting!” they shouted through a pane of glass with doors and windows separating the group from the election workers. Videos, recorded on the spot and later passed on to social media, showed guards preventing the demonstrators from passing the entrance. The protests came shortly after Trump’s re-election campaign filed a lawsuit to stop the Michigan vote count, claiming it had not been granted “meaningful access” to observe the trial.
The Michigan campaign’s Michigan lawsuit was one of several similar lawsuits attempting to suspend tabulation proceedings in key swing states, with each party arguing that it should be granted extended permission to monitor and verify ballots that have been or will be counted. In the suit, filed Wednesday in the Michigan Court of Claims, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is named as a defendant, citing her role in monitoring nationwide election processes.
Washington Newsday contacted Benson’s office to comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.