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Politics & Government

State finds positives in election audit report; GOP lawmakers not convinced

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Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio

A new report from the Michigan Auditor General finds the state's handling of voter data and review of the 2020 election were mostly "sufficient."

The Michigan Department of State used the data to highlight the success of its post-election audits.

“The reality is that Michigan’s county, city and township clerks successfully shouldered significant responsibilities, endured unprecedented scrutiny, and ensured the security and professional execution of the 2020 election and post-election audits,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a press release.

Department of State spokesperson Jake Rollow said the main takeaway should be that the 2020 election results were accurate.

“Following the 2020 election, the Michigan Bureau of Elections and clerks on all sides of the political spectrum conducted more audits — more post-election audits — of that 2020 presidential and other elections than ever before in state history,” Rollow said.

But some Republican lawmakers like State Representative Ann Bollin (R-Brighton Twp), who chairs the House Elections and Ethics Committee, saw another story.

“We are doing some things right, but it — certainly there’s an area that needs to be corrected and also gives us an opportunity, I think, to springboard us into areas that we need to tighten up in our law,” Bollin said.

Critics also zeroed in on some observations in the report, including a small percentage of absentee voters who died before election day.

Bollin acknowledged none of the auditor general’s findings would have changed the outcome of the 2020 general election. But she said the data exposed flaws within the post-election audit process.

“They did not include a hand count of the appropriate statewide race ballots in 17% of the completed post-election audits. The post-election audit reports were not properly submitted for roughly 9% of the selected audits, and 10% were submitted late,” Bollin said.

That was one of four main issues the auditor general pointed out in the report.

Another dealt with the length of time it took the state to remove deceased voters from its voter file. A third called for improved electronic poll book security. The fourth found many local election officials didn’t complete post-election audit training.

Rollow said the state is already working to make changes recommended in the audit.

He said the state would also support policy changes like pre-processing absentee ballots and giving canvassers more time to certify election results.

“I think there are legislative fixes that can be made that would support election administration and support our voters,” he said.

Bollin agreed there are places where the Republican-controlled legislature and Democratic governor can find common ground.

“Two areas that we need to focus on are the post-election audit process and also evaluating early processing,” Bollin said.

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