By: - November 6, 2020 7:34 am

Laina G. Stebbins graphic for election 2020

Good morning! As national media outlets inch closer to calling the presidential race, the Michigan Advance is here to update you on what’s going on with election results and legal fights in the Mitten State before the weekend.

2 years ago

Michigan SOS calls claims from RNC chair ‘false’

By: - 6:30 pm

Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Friday night issued a point-by-point response to claims Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel made at a press conference in Oakland County earlier in the day.

McDaniel, a Michigan native, went through “irregularities” but did not provide evidence.

“We need to pursue these irregularities, and we need people to be patient and give us the time to investigate,” McDaniel said. “… The fight is not over. President Trump will continue to fight for us and we will continue to fight for him.”

Benson said that “Michigan’s elections were conducted fairly, effectively and transparently and are an accurate reflection of the will of Michigan voters.”

McDaniel recruited Minnesota Republicans to amplify Trump claims of ballot fraud

As for issues raised by McDaniel, Benson issued a statement answering them:

  • The erroneous reporting of unofficial results from Antrim County was a result of accidental error on the part of the Antrim County Clerk. The equipment and software did not malfunction and all ballots were properly tabulated. However, the clerk accidentally did not update the software used to collect voting machine data and report unofficial results.
  • Like many counties in Michigan, Antrim County uses the Dominion Voting Systems election management system and voting machines (ballot tabulators.) The county receives programming support from Election Source. Tabulators are programmed to scan hand marked, paper ballots. When machines are finished scanning the ballots, the paper ballots are retained and a totals tape showing the number of votes for each candidate in each race is printed from the machine.
  • In order to report unofficial results, county clerks use election management system software to combine the electronic totals from tabulators and submit a report of unofficial results. Because the clerk did not update software, even though the tabulators counted all the ballots correctly, those accurate results were not combined properly when the clerk reported unofficial results.
  • The correct results always were and continue to be reflected on the tabulator totals tape and on the ballots themselves. Even if the error in the reported unofficial results had not been quickly noticed, it would have been identified during the county canvass. Boards of County Canvassers, which are composed of 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans, review the printed totals tape from each tabulator during the canvass to verify the reported vote totals are correct.
  • The software did not cause a misallocation of votes; it was a result of user human error. Even when human error occurs, it is caught during county canvasses.
  • It is also completely false that the county had to or will have to hand count all their ballots. The ballots were properly counted by the tabulators. The county had to review the printed tabulator results from each precinct, not each individual ballot.
  • As with other unofficial results reporting errors, this was an honest mistake and did not affect any actual vote totals. Election clerks work extremely hard and do their work with integrity. They are human beings, and sometimes make mistakes. However, there are many checks and balances that ensure mistakes can be caught and corrected.
  • As Detroit officials have stated, hundreds of challengers from both parties were inside their absent voter counting board all afternoon and evening. And even after some left, there were always challengers from both parties in the room. Dozens of reporters were in the room as well. Further, some windows were covered to stop those outside from filming the people and private information in the counting board, while other windows were left uncovered to ensure additional transparency.
  • As was stated by Chris Thomas, who as a contractor for the Detroit City Clerk’s Office served as an advisor on the execution of this election and led challenger relations, and who is the former Michigan Director of Elections, who served under both republican and democrat Secretaries of State during his 40-year-tenure with the Bureau of Elections, no ballots were backdated. Rather, a clerical error was made when some ballot envelopes were received in Detroit satellite offices. Although employees stamped a date of receipt on the envelopes, an employee failed to complete the transaction for receiving the ballot by saving that date in the Qualified Voter File. Therefore, at the absent voter counting board, after discussion with Republican challengers who chose not to challenge the process, staff was instructed to enter that date stamped on the envelope ensuring that no voters were disenfranchised by the clerical error.

2 years ago

RNC chair: Legal teams are ‘on the ground’ in Mich. to challenge vote

By: - 1:25 pm

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel signaled Friday that numerous legal teams have been formed by the party in Michigan and other key states to challenge their voting outcomes, based on unfounded claims that Democrats attempted to disenfranchise voters by denying GOP challengers the ability to properly observe the process.

A judge on Thursday dismissed a GOP case making similar arguments in an attempt to stop the vote count.

Final unofficial results from the city of Detroit reported early Friday have Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with an overwhelming lead of about 94% and Republican President Donald Trump with just 5%. Biden won Michigan by 2.7% overall on Wednesday.

McDaniel, along with Michigan GOP Chair Laura Cox, made numerous accusations at a press conference Friday afternoon at the party’s Oakland County headquarters without providing evidence. That included suspicions that the city of Detroit “deceived the media,” and that people were covering the windows of the city’s TCF Center to shield those outside from observing the process.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel at President Donald Trump’s Battle Creek rally, Dec. 18, 2019 | Andrew Roth

Since winning Michigan, Biden has since strengthened his lead over Trump in other key states like Georgia and Pennsylvania. Trump has continued to cast doubt on the integrity of those states’ election processes by making claims that were echoed by McDaniel and Cox on Friday.

Neither were able to provide any evidence of widespread issues, but mentioned allegations of dates being changed on ballots and GOP challengers being boxed out of observing at the TCF Center.

The latter claim has been debunked, as many Republican challengers and lawyers were present and participating in the process as required.

McDaniel said that the GOP is investigating allegations at TCF and has even referred them to the federal prosecutor in Detroit. She did not, however, claim that there is enough evidence to change the outcome of the Michigan election when asked by reporters.

Vote count process at TCF Center | Ken Coleman photo

McDaniel would also not say whether the Republican Party plans to pursue a recount in Michigan.

“We need to pursue these irregularities, and we need people to be patient and give us the time to investigate,” McDaniel said. “… The fight is not over. President Trump will continue to fight for us and we will continue to fight for him.”

Cox also attacked Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, for ignoring these claims and attempting to “bury” stories about the election that the party has attempted to flag, and likewise accused Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other state officials for trying to cover up alleged wrongdoing in Detroit and beyond. 

2 years ago

AG’s staff receives around 100 ‘crude’ calls from upset Trump supporters

By: - 11:40 am

Attorney General Dana Nessel took to Twitter Thursday to ask that people stop threatening her staff. 

Dear members of the public: Please stop making harassing & threatening calls to my staff. They are kind, hardworking public servants just doing their job,” Nessel tweeted. “Asking them to shove sharpies in uncomfortable places is never appropriate & is a sad commentary on the state of our nation.”

Nessel spokesperson Ryan Jarvi said office staff has received around 100 “crude and totally unacceptable crank calls” and several emails because of the presidential election, but do not believe they are legitimate threats. 

“The majority of them appear to have come from Michigan residents, but our team responding to these messages has been handling them with grace and dignity,” Jarvi said. “We’re hoping that catches on.”

2 years ago

Michigan election volunteer debunks voter fraud myths in Washington Post op-ed

By: - 11:30 am

Evelyn Smith, a University of Michigan graduate student in economics, wrote a column in the Washington Post on Friday about her experience counting votes in Ann Arbor on Election Day. This was her first election doing so.

The column is titled, “I counted votes in Michigan. There’s no way to commit fraud,” with the subtitle, “The process is so complicated, involving so many people, that it would be virtually impossible to fake even a single ballot.”

Sam Harris at the Detroit vote count | Ken Coleman photo

Smith described the methodical process of counting votes while being sequestered in a high school cafeteria all day. And she writes:

The next day, I saw the theory proliferating online that ballots had “magically” surfaced in Michigan. At a counting center in Detroit, Trump supporters showed up and pounded on the windows and doors, demanding that the count be stopped and that they be let in. Rumors spread about other states, too, as commentators seized on mundane parts of the process as a sign of fraud — even things like some counties pausing the count overnight, to give poll workers some rest.

Those claims are totally detached from reality — from the painstaking, tedious process of accounting for and tabulating every ballot. The count involves so many steps, so many layers of double-checking and supervision, that it would be virtually impossible to fake even a single ballot. It’s dangerous to suggest that anyone could fake enough ballots to change the result. From my experience, it’s also totally absurd.

Smith says that the conspiracy theories have made her feel “angry.” She also called them “dumb.”

2 years ago

Lucido, who was stripped of Senate chairmanship for sexual harassment, wins Macomb County prosecutor race

By: - 7:34 am

State Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Twp.) will be Macomb County’s next prosecutor after capturing 52.5% of the vote in the race. 

His opponent, former Judge Mary Mary Chrzanowski, received 47.5% of the vote. Republicans swept major offices in Macomb County, where President Donald Trump won 53% of the vote — an 8-point lead over Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Lucido and Chrzanowski, a Democrat, campaigned for the office after former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith resigned from the position in March. Smith in September pleaded guilty to a federal obstruction of justice charge for encouraging two assistant prosecutors to cover up Smith’s embezzlement of $70,000 from a campaign fund.

Lucido’s current term as state senator ends on Jan. 1, 2023, so this will trigger a special Senate election. He previously served as state representative in the Michigan House from 2015 to 2018. 

Whitmer: ‘Rational conclusion’ that sexism was a factor in campaign coverage

Another Senate seat will need to be filled, as Sen. Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford) won his bid over Democrat Beth White for Kent County treasurer.

In January, Lucido was investigated by the Senate Business Office for sexist comments he made against Michigan Advance reporter Allison Donahue.

Donahue detailed Lucido’s sexist comments in a first-person story. Among other things, Lucido told Donahue a group of schoolboys could “have a lot of fun” with her — while the two were standing in front of the group of boys.

After Donahue’s story was published, state Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) and Melissa Osborn of the Michigan Credit Union League both said Lucido sexually harassed them, as well.

After a months-long sexual harassment probe, state Sen. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) in March removed Lucido from his position as chair of the state Senate Advice and Consent Committee, which reviews executive appointments. Lucido was required to participate in additional training, according to Shirkey.

However, Lucido kept his role as chair of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. 

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