State board certifies Michigan election results despite protest from some GOP candidates

By: - November 28, 2022 1:58 pm

Susan J. Demas

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers unanimously voted Monday to certify the results of the Nov. 8 election.

The midterm election resulted in victories for the three Democratic incumbents in the top statewide offices. Democrats in Michigan also took control of both the state House and Senate, making it the first time in four decades that Democrats have had a trifecta in Michigan.

None of the top races were close in Michigan. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer beat Republican Tudor Dixon by 11 points; Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson defeated Republican Kristina Karamo by 14 points and Attorney General Dana Nessel fended off Republican Matt DePerno by 9 points. 

The board consists of two Republicans, Tony Daunt and Richard Houskamp, and two Democrats, Mary Ellen Gurewitz and Jeannette Bradshaw.

Republican nominee for secretary of state Kristina Karamo speaks at a rally with gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon and former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in Southfield, Mich. on Oct. 29, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

A few candidates who lost in the 2022 midterm election sowed doubt in the state’s election process during public comment, including Karamo, U.S. Taxpayers Party of Michigan nominee Donna Brandenburg and a representative for State Board of Education nominee Linda Lee Tarver.

All three Republicans also have questioned the results of the 2020 election that former President Donald Trump lost to President Joe Biden and signed onto lawsuits seeking to overturn the results. Brandenburg ran for governor as a Republican but failed to make the ballot amid a massive signature-gathering fraud scandal. She then ran on the far-right U.S. Taxpayers ticket.

Two years ago, the board was embroiled in a long meeting with dozens of Republicans falsely claiming election irregularities, but members ultimately approved election results on a 3-0 vote.

“A lot of the questions that arise are from just lack of proper understanding, which is unfortunately fed by candidates and party officials on both sides of the aisle who feed into this nonsense and who make these claims that fire everybody up because it’s a short term game for them,” Daunt said. 

Mark Brewer, an elections lawyer and former Michigan Democratic Party chair, said Daunt is wrong for putting the blame on “both sides of the aisle.”

“Misinformation and those allegations are not coming from Democrats,” Brewer said. “And for him to sit there and say that both sides are doing it is simply incorrect and makes the problem worse.”

Daunt is a longtime GOP activist, having previously served on the Michigan GOP state committee, as executive director of the DeVos-funded Michigan Freedom Fund, director of constituent relations for GOP former Gov. Rick Snyder and logistics director for the Michigan Republican Party.

Director of Elections Jonathan Brater said the state’s election went largely without a hitch. The state had nearly 4.5 million ballots cast in the Nov. 8 election, with about 42% of those being absentee ballots. 

Misinformation and those allegations are not coming from Democrats. And for him (Chair Tony Daunt) to sit there and say that both sides are doing it is simply incorrect and makes the problem worse.

– Attorney Mark Brewer

Brater said the state also made improvements this year with balancing precinct records to match the number of ballots cast and the number recorded in the poll books. Unbalanced records are often due to clerical or human error, Brater said, and the records are usually unbalanced by one to two votes.

Trump and his allies have been pushing election conspiracies in Michigan since the 2020 election when Trump lost Michigan to Biden by more than 154,000 votes. 

At times, the Monday meeting was heated as the packed room reacted to baseless comments about election fraud in the midterm election. About an hour into the meeting, Daunt called on security to escort a man out of the room who was heckling the board. 

A WDET reporter identified the man as Hassan Aoun, who has protested LGBTQ+ books in Dearborn. Karamo and other Republicans joined in the fight before the election.

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.