Secretary of state: Audits uphold integrity of November 2020 election

Elections

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — The state has wrapped up more than 250 jurisdictional audits of the November 2020 election, with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson saying they found the final results were accurate.

The audits were conducted by county and local clerks of both parties and the state Bureau of Elections. Benson stressed that in checks of counting boards — which are meant to reconcile the number of ballots cast with poll books — auditors were able to balance or explain discrepancies in the majority of cases.

In Grand Rapids, 87% of absentee counting boards were balanced or explained; in Detroit, 83%; in Livonia, 77%; and in Sterling Heights, 71%.

While some of those percentages may seem lower than desired, they also account for very small numbers of votes: In Grand Rapids, the boards were off by a total of eight ballots, in Livonia one and in Sterling Heights four. In Detroit’s absentee ballot counting board, which involved 174,000 ballots, the balance was off by only 17.

Benson also said that each of the four jurisdictions was able to explain more counting board discrepancies with the additional audit time. She wants the state Legislature to give counties an extra week to canvass their votes, saying this would let them figure out some of the common clerical problems before the results are certified.

In addition to the typical performance audits, Antrim County underwent a complete recount. There, workers’ failure to properly program a counting system caused initial unofficial results to be incorrect. The problem was noticed immediately and the ballots counted by hand before results were certified.

Auditors also hand counted a set of randomly chosen 18,000 presidential votes to see if voting machines had tallied them properly. The sample exercise yielded vote percentages for both candidates that were within one percentage point of the results from the actual election.

“Over the last several months, the state Bureau of Elections has worked with local clerks to conduct more audits than ever before in our state’s history, and each has reaffirmed the accuracy, security and integrity of the November 2020 election,” Benson said in prepared remarks Tuesday. “We’ve responded to every question and claim and the evidence is clear. It is time for leaders across the political spectrum to tell their constituents the truth, that our election was the most secure in history, and the results accurately reflect the will of Michigan’s voters.”

Benson also again called on the state Legislature to let clerks start getting absentee ballots ready for counting two weeks ahead of Election Day. The state allowed 10 extra hours in November; the secretary of state and local clerks say that simply wasn’t enough.

Benson said if state lawmakers had approved the time frame she suggested before November, “they could have pre-emptively debunked many of the lies that have since attacked our democracy.”

In addition to Benson’s legislative plan, bills are currently pending in the state House that would change Michigan’s qualified voter file. Those could see a vote in the next few weeks and would then head to the Senate for consideration.

Benson, along with local clerks both Democrat and Republican, have repeatedly vouched for the security and accuracy of the November election despite unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud from former President Donald Trump and his allies.

President Joe Biden won the state by about 154,000 votes.

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