- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 2, 2021

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan’s audits of the 2020 general election found that it was was secure and accurate, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Tuesday.

Local clerks checked numbers by comparing the hand-count total of paper ballots to machine-tabulated numbers, Benson said at a news conference. The clerks also examined post-election procedures. More than 1,300 clerks of different political parties and geographic locations conducted 250 audits across the state and all came to the same conclusion: This was the most secure election in state history, she said.

Conspiracy theories asserting that President Joe Biden “stole” the election from former President Donald Trump spread across the country after the election, with Trump stoking the flames even before states had results.

Michigan’s GOP-led Legislature has held numerous committee hearings to examine the validity and security of the election, including a hearing in December where Republican leaders gave Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani the floor to talk at length about baseless claims of mass fraud, including that Detroit Democrats created hundreds of thousands of “illegal votes.”

Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers tried to block the certification of Detroit’s election, saying poll books in some Detroit precincts were out of balance, because absentee ballot books did not match the number of ballots cast.



When auditors of Detroit’s absentee ballot counting board examined the books, they found that local election officials had properly counted 174,000 valid ballots that corresponded to signatures on envelopes that were submitted by registered voters, Benson, a Democrat, said. Only 17 ballots were off, less than one-hundreth of 1% of ballots.

Benson said attempts to undermine the election “are dangerous, racist, and undertaken for personal and political gain.”

“They are also completely meritless, as proven by these audits, and must be treated as such in the future,” Benson said. “No leader or person of power, elected or otherwise, should have ever played political games with the integrity of our elections, but those who did must stop now.”

Benson praised election workers for their hard work and dedication throughout difficult circumstances, including accommodating no-excuse absentee voting and establishing procedures to ensure safety for voters and workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 5.5 million Michigan citizens cast ballots in the election, Benson said, 3.3 million of which were absentee and nearly 30,000 involving people who registered and voted on Election Day.

“Now unfortunately, Michigan’s clerks were still not allowed to celebrate their job well done, nor rest as their work was immediately attacked by the lies, meritless conspiracy theories and uninformed observation of the former president and his supporters,” Benson said.

As a part of her legislative agenda, Benson is pushing lawmakers to allow clerks to begin processing absentee ballots two weeks before Election Day. In the November election, clerks in cities or townships of at least 25,000 people could start processing absentee ballots a day before. She also wants to require that absentee ballots applications be mailed to all registered voters before every federal election.

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Anna Liz Nichols is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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