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Michigan conducting new, "more rigorous" audit of November election

MDOS livestream

The Michigan Department of State began an audit of the November election on Monday. 

Audits are performed after every election in Michigan, but state officials say this is a new form of audit and it is more rigorous than those relied on in the past.

Jonathan Brater is director of the state's Bureau of Elections. He oversaw the first stage of the audit in a livestream on Youtube, an event that was attended by several Republican and Democratic clerks. 

Each of the clerks rolled dice, and the numbers were written on a whiteboard so the public could observe the process of generating the number. The resulting total number will be used by a computer algorhithm to select random ballots from more than half of Michigan's elections jurisdictions.

"We're going to compare about 18,000 ballots that we randomly pull to the machine tabulated totals," said Brater, "to confirm in a statistical level of certainty that the outcome of the election was correct."

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says she planned to roll out this new type of audit months before President Donald Trump and Republican supporters falsely claimed there was widespread fraud in the November election. 

She says the audit is a more statistically reliable way of affirming the ballots were accurately counted.  Benson acknowledges political leaders will need to do more to get people to trust election results again.

"We have to respect the voters by telling them the truth", she said, quoting U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah).  "And the more people who do that, the more we'll get out of this moment we're in, and closer to one where we're all working with the same set of facts."

Michigan counties, cities and townships continue carrying out more than 200 local procedural audits across the state, most of which have already been completed. All completed audits have confirmed the integrity and accuracy of local elections.

Each of several lawsuits seeking to overturn the results in Michigan was dismissed by judges for failure to state a valid claim, lack of standing, or lack of evidence.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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