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Updated: GOP group celebrates recount of hundreds of Michigan precincts over Proposals 2 and 3
The voting rights and abortion rights measures both passed Nov. 8 by double digits
Proposal 3 sign | Susan J. Demas
Updated, 8:43 a.m. with more details from the Secretary of State’s office
The votes in more than 600 precincts across Michigan will be recounted after an Oakland County man filed paperwork Wednesday alleging “fraud or error” in balloting for voting and abortion rights proposals that were approved by voters on Nov. 8.
The petitions, signed by Jerome Jay Allen of Bloomfield Township, make disproven claims about software altering votes and election equipment being connected to the internet in relation to both Proposal 2, which expanded voting rights, and Proposal 3, which enshrined abortion rights in the Michigan Constitution.
The Nov. 8 results on the ballot measures were not close. Proposal 2 passed by a 20-point statewide margin; Proposal 3 won by 13 points. The measures were opposed by the Michigan Republican Party.
Taking credit for the petitions is Election Integrity Force (EIF), a Michigan GOP group that has made numerous false claims about the 2020 election.
EIF issued a press release Wednesday saying they were “pleased” to announce they had filed for the partial recount at the Board of Elections in Lansing.
“We are excited to begin the recount,” stated the release. “The data from the recount will be used to determine future actions. This is one big step forward for the election integrity movement and the effort to hold our elected officials accountable to conduct transparent and trustworthy elections for the Michigan citizens.”
EIF also said the cost of the recount, which is expected to be at least $75,000, had been made possible by financial support from The America Project. The Sarasota, Fla.-based group is led by Patrick Byrne, who has been a former President Donald Trump supporter and is former CEO of Overstock.com.
Allen is seeking to recount 47 precincts in Kalamazoo, Macomb, Muskegon and Oakland counties for Proposal 2, and 560 precincts across dozens of other counties for Proposal 3. Each proposal passed statewide with approximately 60% support.
Allen alleges that the recount was necessitated by concerns over “a significant risk of foreign or domestic hacking” taking place in the election.
Similar claims have persisted among Republicans since Trump lost the 2020 election to President Joe Biden. They have been continually disproven, including by a 2021 report from the Republican-controlled Michigan Senate Oversight Committee which “found no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud in Michigan’s prosecution of the 2020 election,” and concluded “citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan.”
According to the Detroit News, the petitions were dropped off at the Secretary of State’s office by Allen’s attorney, Stefanie Lambert, who also goes by Stefanie Lambert Juntilla.
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Lambert Juntilla, along with failed attorney general candidate Matthew DePerno and state Rep. Daire Rendon (R-Lake City), was named in a petition last August by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office with orchestrating “a coordinated plan to gain access to voting tabulators” used in Roscommon, Barry County and Missaukee counties.
Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson, who was named as a special prosecutor to oversee the case, has yet to announce whether charges will be filed as a result of that investigation.
Lambert Juntilla was also previously sanctioned by a federal judge for her role in bringing “frivolous” lawsuits that sought to overturn the 2020 election that former President Donald Trump lost to President Joe Biden.
In a message to clerks and election directors, Lori Bourbonais, director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections’ election administration division, wrote that many of the state’s 83 counties have at least one precinct listed on at least one of the petitions, while Kalamazoo, Macomb, Muskegon, and Oakland counties have at least one precinct on both petitions.
“While it appears that the requests may not include enough precincts to change the results of the election, it is our understanding that MCL 168.880 requires the recount to move forward,” said Bourbonais. “We will be in touch with those counties that will be involved in the recount in the coming days.”
When asked about the petitions for a recount, Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum told Michigan Advance that while her office was ready to follow state law and comply with the request “in a timely and efficient fashion,” it shouldn’t lend any credence to the allegations made in the petitions.
“The absurdity of this recount is laughable,” said Byrum. “There is absolutely no circumstance under which this recount will change the result of the election. None. This is a waste of the recount requestor’s money and it is a waste of taxpayer dollars because the deposit required under statute will in no way cover the actual costs of completing the recount.”
While the bipartisan Board of State Canvassers certified the election results on Monday, state law allows for any voter “who believes that there has been fraud or error” to seek a recount within two days of that certification, as long as they pay a deposit of $125 per precinct.
The absurdity of this recount is laughable. There is absolutely no circumstance under which this recount will change the result of the election. None. This is a waste of the recount requestor’s money and it is a waste of taxpayer dollars because the deposit required under statute will in no way cover the actual costs of completing the recount.
– Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum
While the bipartisan Board of State Canvassers certified the election results on Monday, state law allows for any voter “who believes that there has been fraud or error” to seek a recount within two days of that certification, as long as they pay a deposit of $150 per precinct.
Angela Benander, deputy chief of communications for Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, told the Advance that at the time of the filing Wednesday, Allen actually paid the estimated amount of $250 per precinct, which is what candidates requesting recounts would need to pay at the time of filing.
“The total amount paid yesterday was $5,875 for Prop 2 and $422,125 for Prop 3, which was an overpayment and will be adjusted,” she said.
As to the petitioner’s allegations, Michigan SOS Chief External Affairs Officer Jake Rollow said there is no doubt that the intent of voters was accurately carried out.
“Michigan’s ballot tabulators are secure and accurate, as was confirmed time and again by hand-tally audits following the 2020 election and the public accuracy tests conducted statewide ahead of last month’s 2022 election,” he told the Advance. ”Due to the large margin by which voters passed both proposals this year, and the known accuracy of the state’s tabulators, voters can be confident that the recounts will uphold their will.”
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