Republican introduces bill for so-called ‘forensic audit’ of 2020 general election results

By: - June 22, 2021 2:34 pm

A protester holds a sign outside the Executive Tower in Phoenix on Dec. 14, 2020. The protesters believe Donald Trump won re-election in 2020 and objected to the state casting its electoral votes for Joe Biden. | Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, Arizona Mirror

Updated, 7:20 a.m. 6/23/21, with comments from Benson

After Republican activists rallied last week calling for a so-called “forensic audit” of the 2020 election results in Michigan, state Rep. Steve Carra (R-St. Joseph) introduced a bill on Tuesday to create a bipartisan audit board to conduct one. 

Rep. Steve Carra

President Joe Biden won Michigan by more than 154,000 votes against former President Donald Trump.

More than 250 election audits were completed by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and local election clerks by March. All of the audits found no evidence of fraud or concern about the security of the state’s election.

Election audits are the latest push by GOP activists and Trump supporters to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in key battleground states. 

HB 5091 would create a bipartisan audit board tasked with conducting a forensic audit of the 2020 general election. The board would consist of seven members, a state auditor general or an auditor general’s designee; one each appointed by GOP and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate; and one election challenger from each side of the aisle.

The bill would enable the audit board to review additions, revisions, and deletions in the Qualified Voter File to “maintain accurate, up-to-date voter rolls”. The audit board would also randomly select 20% of precincts from cities with populations over 500,000 and 10% of precincts from other counties to analyze poll books, ballots and vote tallies of the 2020 general election. The audit will also review the secretary of state’s procedures after mailing out unsolicited absentee ballot applications. 

In order to maintain transparency, the entire audit process will be recorded. 

In a statement announcing the bill, Carra discussed that the purpose of the audit board would be to ensure “secure elections that the voters can trust.”

“Transparency is an important responsibility of the Michigan Legislature,” Carra said. “As the people’s elected representatives responsible for setting election laws for our state, we have a duty to ensure that our elections are conducted properly, and a forensic audit will help us move forward together.”

Tracy Wimmer, a spokesperson for Benson, condemned the legislation.

“This bill is yet another attempt to perpetuate the Big Lie, this time proposing to waste millions of taxpayer dollars in order to do so. More than 250 audits have been conducted across the state by officials on both sides of the aisle and nonpartisan election workers, and every single one confirmed the accuracy of the results and the integrity of our election system,” Wimmer said.

“The term forensic audit does not appear anywhere in Michigan election law, underscoring the real intention of this bill is to continue frothing enthusiasm amongst fringe conspiracy theory advocates who are unhappy with the outcome of the election and refuse to admit the truth: that the election was safe, secure and an accurate reflection of the will of the people,” Wimmer added.

Carra attended a Jan. 6 pro-President Trump rally at the state Capitol along with 700 others who were there to protest the count of the Electoral College at the U.S. Capitol certifying Joe Biden’s win. That was the same day of the violent pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Carra also participated in a protest outside of the Pfizer building in Portage while Biden was touring the facility. 

He has announced he is challenging U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) in 2022. Upton voted to impeach Trump in January for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection, angering many GOP activists. 

The introduction of the bill also comes as GOP activists delivered more than 7,000 signed affidavits to Republican leaders last week demanding that a “forensic audit” of the election be conducted. Michigan GOP Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock was among them.

Last week, documents were obtained from the U.S. House Oversight Committee that showed former President Trump wanted his Justice Department to request that the Supreme Court order six states to conduct audits of their election results under the direction of court-appointed special masters. The document also showed Trump wanted his Justice Department to request that SCOTUS order the states to hold new presidential elections and bar them from casting their electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden.

In Arizona, the Republican-led Senate requested an audit of Maricopa County’s 2020 general election ballots. No evidence has been found to indicate tampering or fraud in the large Arizona county. 


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Julia Forrest
Julia Forrest

Julia Forrest is a contributor to the Michigan Advance. She has been covering Michigan and national politics for two years at the Michigan Daily and OpenSecrets. She studies public policy at the University of Michigan.