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Man seen on Mich. election conspiracy theory video was TV photojournalist on the job

A man is seen taking a box out of a van in the middle of the night in Detroit. The lawyer who...
A man is seen taking a box out of a van in the middle of the night in Detroit. The lawyer who shot it suggests the box contains ballots. The truth isn’t as interesting, but it makes much more sense.
Published: Nov. 6, 2020 at 7:06 AM CST
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DETROIT (WXYZ/CNN) - A video showing a man wheeling a box into the convention center where votes are being counted in Michigan has gone viral.

The lawyer who shot it suggests the box contains ballots. The truth isn’t as interesting, but it makes much more sense.

The video starts ominously enough. An unmarked white van is seen at 2:30 a.m. outside the TCF Center, and a man is shown unloading something into a wagon.

“Looks like one of those lock boxes,” said Kelly Sorelle, the woman recording. She is a Texas lawyer and member of Lawyers for Trump.

Without evidence, she suggested that what she’s recording is someone delivering thousands of ballots in the middle of the night, right around the time Michigan went from President Donald Trump to Joe Biden.

Sorelle shared the video with conservative media and it blew up. A right wing website called it “suspicious.” Sorelle even did an interview about it with a conservative radio host.

“When I get in the car and I see him like drop the box, and that was pretty much, we had worked polling stations for the night and that’s, you know, very similar to the box that we had seen and been watching and monitoring,” Sorelle said.

The video went global. Even Trump’s son, Eric Trump, tweeted it leading 40,000 more to retweet it.

“It really opens your eyes at how we’re using social media and our Twitter feeds and our Facebook feeds to make very important decisions about what we think of this nation,” photojournalist Josh Bowren said. “And we’re not actually vetting stories like we do in the news.”

Bowren, a veteran TV photojournalist, was the mystery man seen in the video. He was working the election that night, and the video was shot at the end of his 12-hour shift.

“This lady could have simply cracked her window open and, as a Seven Action News representative, I would have gladly told her that it was a box full of batteries. And I was taking my wagon down so the photographer I was relieving could have a wagon cause he forgot his,” he said.

Even if someone was trying to drop off thousands of ballots in the middle of the night, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says it would never work.

“I mean, if anyone did that, they wouldn’t be counted because there’s a process in place to validate every single ballot that must be in an envelope signed by a voter,” she said. “That voter signature must match the signature on file. Every voter in the voter file actually has a barcode.”

“I mean, we don’t really go on there unless we’ve heard from both sides of the story, and this person clearly did not do that,” Bowren said.

Some social media platforms have tried to take action to stop videos that misrepresent the truth from spreading. Experts worry it’s still common for claims that can’t be proven to proliferate there.

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