That man was a photographer for WXYZ, Detroit’s ABC affiliate, and the box was the equipment he was transporting into the TCF Center.
The video, posted by the conservative website Texas Scorecard and allegedly filmed by a member of Lawyers for Trump, has been shared online thousands of times and viewed on YouTube nearly 200,000 times by Thursday afternoon.
A Michigan Department of State spokeswoman confirmed that the video did not depict illegal behavior.
“WXYZ settled this and confirmed it is their camera person,” the spokeswoman, Tracy Wimmer, wrote in an email. “That video has been completely debunked."
Tensions ran high in Detroit on Wednesday as the number of states that had yet to declare a winner in the presidential race dwindled, and Michigan’s 16 electoral votes became crucial to the outcome. Detroit’s votes increased Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s lead over President Trump to nearly 70,000 late Wednesday as Edison Research projected that Biden had won the state and Trump’s campaign vowed legal action to try to stop vote counting.
A Michigan judge told attorneys for Trump’s campaign on Thursday that she planned to deny their request.
In an explainer video posted Thursday by WXYZ, reporter Jenn Schanz says the news station knows the person in the Texas Scorecard video was not bringing ballots inside the convention center because he was one of the station’s photographers and was transporting news equipment.
“Our crews, like a lot of news crews yesterday, were working really long hours inside the TCF Center,” she said. “Our crews were coming back and forth to get new batteries, new equipment, new equipment to go live with. So that’s where that video came from.”
WXYZ’s video showed a clear shot of the red wagon and black box. Along with its distinctive ridges and gray Pelican brand decal at the top, the middle of the case also has a blue sticker with the station’s logo and motto.
The Texas Scorecard video shows light reflecting off the top of case, consistent with the decals on the case shown by WXYZ. Around the 40-second mark, outlines of both decals are visible.
Pelican cases are common in the world of broadcast news. The popular brand is best known for its distinctive hard-shell protective boxes used to store heavy or fragile media equipment in foam-lined interiors.
Misinformation has been a key strategy for the Trump campaign in recent days as it promotes conspiracy theories meant to show that Democrats are rigging the vote. One of Trump’s sons, Eric Trump, promoted a far-right QAnon conspiracy theory that someone was burning ballots cast for his father, while White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed that Trump had won Pennsylvania when no result had been determined.
Twitter has added warning labels to several tweets sent from the president’s account or the official campaign account.
On Thursday evening, a spokesperson for Twitter said a tweet from Texas Scorecard’s account with the debunked video violates its policy against using the platform to try to manipulate an election. A label added to the tweet reads “Learn about US 2020 election security efforts” and links to other tweets about the video, including many explaining that the conspiracy theory is false.
At the TCF Center on Wednesday, a group of Republicans who wanted to be election “challengers” criticized how the vote-counting was unfolding and demanded to be let inside. Michigan law allows challengers, people who watch ballot-counting on behalf of a political party or candidate.
Concerned about the coronavirus pandemic and crowding inside the convention center, elections officials restricted the number of people who could go inside. They let new volunteers enter only to replace members of their party, because there must be equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans inside the venue.
The crowd outside the venue loudly protested, at times praying, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and chanting “Stop the count!” in support of the Trump campaign. Police inside the ballot counting room held the crowd back, and guards blocked the entrance.
“A lot of people screamed and shouted, but they responded to the police when they told them to calm down,” Lawrence Garcia, a city attorney for Detroit, previously told The Washington Post.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson insisted Wednesday that ballot-counting in Michigan was proceeding with integrity and urged people to avoid spreading misinformation.
“In Michigan, the process worked,” she said at a news conference. “Our system is secure, accurate, and anyone who tells you otherwise is attacking our democracy or unhappy with the results.”
Kayla Ruble, Tom Hamburger and Mark Berman contributed to this report.