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GOP-led Michigan committee finds no evidence of election fraud

A Republican-controlled Michigan state Senate committee published a report Wednesday affirming that there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election and further, it’s calling on the state attorney general to consider investigating some people who have pushed false claims about the election “to raise money or publicity for their own ends.”

The report, released Wednesday morning, came after the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee had spent months reviewing the 2020 presidential election in Michigan. It was based on 28 hours of testimony from almost 90 people and an examination of thousands of pages of documents. 

While the report took note of “glaring issues” that need to be addressed in Michigan’s elections, the committee found no proof of either “significant acts of fraud or that an organized, wide-scale effort to commit fraudulent activity was perpetrated in order to subvert the will of Michigan voters.”

“This Committee found no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud in Michigan’s prosecution of the 2020 election,” the report said. “Our clear finding is that citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan. The Committee strongly recommends citizens use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.”

Michigan State Police officers patrol outside the state Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, Friday, January 15, 2021

Carlos Osorio / AP

President Biden won Michigan by 154,000 votes in November, a margin that was more than 14 times greater than former President Trump’s margin of victory in 2016. In the days, weeks and months that followed the 2020 election, Mr. Trump and some of his supporters pushed unsubstantiated theories about widespread fraud. The claims continued even after the bipartisan state board of canvassers certified the results.

The Senate committee’s report laced into some of the leaders who have pushed false claims about the election, especially in Antrim County. Initial unofficial results from the traditionally Republican county suggested that Mr. Biden won Antrim county. But a human error had caused the county’s tabulators to improperly communicate the election results to the county’s central election management software. When the equipment was reprogrammed, the results found that Mr. Trump had won the county by nearly 4,000 votes and a hand recount of the ballots later confirmed that result. 

Some GOP activists and leaders have seized on that error to make the unfounded argument  that votes had been switched to Mr. Biden in November. Mr. Trump was among those who repeated the false claims about Antrim County following the election. The report asserted in absolute terms that “ideas and speculation that the Antrim County election workers or outside entities manipulated the vote by hand or electronically are indefensible.”

“The many hours of testimony before the Committee showed these claims are unjustified and unfair to the people of Antrim County and the state of Michigan,” the report said. “The Committee finds those promoting Antrim County as the prime evidence of a nationwide conspiracy to steal the election place all other statements and actions they make in a position of zero credibility.”

The committee also recommended that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel “consider investigating those who have been utilizing misleading and false information about Antrim County to raise money or publicity for their own ends.” 

“We will review the report in its entirety in order to determine if a criminal investigation is appropriate,” Lynsey Mukomel, a spokeswoman for Nessel, said in a statement.

The report also made recommendations for changes to Michigan election law, including allowing absentee ballots to be pre-processed before Election Day, giving clerks more control over the voter file, and banning the unsolicited mailing of absentee ballot applications. 

Michigan’s Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a statement that “the report confirms what 250 audits, numerous courts, countless election officials and the majority of Michiganders already know to be true: our 2020 election was secure and the results are accurate.” She added that the report was “only noteworthy” because it comes from a GOP-led committee. And while she agreed with some of the report’s recommendations, she strongly dismissed others.

“While the report includes some strong recommendations – among them increasing time for pre-processing absentee ballots and post-election cavasses – it also contains inaccuracies that further misinformation and will likely be used to press for partisan and nefarious election audits and legislation that needlessly harms election administration and restricts voting rights,” Benson said.  

Republicans in the state legislature have been pushing a series of election-related bills, including changing photo ID requirements, putting restrictions on drop boxes and banning sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications. 

Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to veto any bills viewed as too restrictive, but Republicans could start a petition initiative if she does. If they gather about 340,000 signatures, the legislature can vote on the petition initiative and a simple majority can approve it without the governor’s signature. 

Some Trump supporters and GOP activists in Michigan have continued to call for a “forensic audit” of the 2020 election, like the one happening in Arizona. In a tweet last week, Benson said “a forensic audit is not a thing” and she has repeatedly pointed to the 250 audits that election officials have already done. 

The Senate Oversight Committee’s Republican chairman Ed McBroom said for now there’s no need for a similar process in Arizona.  

“Another audit, a so-called forensic audit, is not justifiable. Michigan’s already completed post-election audit and risk-limiting audit are also far more substantive than Arizona’s standard audit,” McBroom wrote. 

McBroom added that he’s “keeping a close eye” on the situation in Arizona and “if genuine issues are shown in Arizona’s audit or from continued investigation here, I will not hesitate to ask the Committee to consider recommending an audit or amending this report.” 



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