The state has found no evidence of voter fraud after auditing 136 Detroit precincts that couldn’t be recounted after the November election. Chris Thomas, the Secretary of State’s director of elections, said there were problems with the performance of staff at the precincts where the ballots couldn’t be recounted either because the numbers in poll books didn’t match the number of ballots in the box or because some ballot boxes were improperly sealed. “There was no pervasive fraud found in our audit of Detroit. We did not find widespread voting machine problems,” Thomas said at a news conference Thursday. “We did find widespread performance issues that tracked back to the training by the Detroit city clerk.”
Articles about voting issues in Michigan.
Michigan Bureau of Elections Director Chris Thomas called Thursday for a change in state law to make recounts easier after Detroit’s election night counting problems. The Michigan Bureau of Elections audited 136 of the city’s most irregular precincts — “the worst of the worst,” it said — after a Wayne County canvass revealed “significant discrepancies” in the number of voters and ballots in 392 Detroit precincts. After an extensive review, it was able to narrow nearly 600 uncounted-for votes to 216. “I think the time has come for at least a consideration of that,” Thomas said at a press conference following the release of an audit that concluded that discrepancies between the recorded number of votes and actual ballots cast in Detroit were the result of human error. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein requested a statewide recount that was stopped after nearly 40 percent of Michigan’s precincts were retallied because state and federal courts ruled she had no chance of winning, and thus wasn’t an “aggrieved” candidate under state law.
Michigan: Democrats preparing a lawsuit over ‘rigged’ redistricting system in Michigan | Michigan Radio
Letters are being sent to some 60 attorneys, legislators and ex-legislators, staffers and ex-staffers, Governor Rick Snyder, and many others, telling them: Anything you have related to the 2011 redistricting process, you better keep it. We’re talking drafts of maps, emails, instructions, and confidential analysis. This is in anticipation of a lawsuit on behalf of Democratic voters in Michigan to challenge Congressional and Legislative district lines. The lawsuit will argue that the maps we have right now are an unconstitutional violation of First Amendment rights. “They are rigged in favor of Republican candidates at both the legislative and congressional levels,” former Michigan Democratic Party chair Mark Brewer told It’s Just Politics. Brewer, a lawyer, is preparing the lawsuit. “Democrats consistently take a majority or a near-majority of the votes in those bodies, but do not take a majority or a near-majority of the seats.” This has been an argument that Democrats in Michigan have been making for awhile.
Former Michigan Democratic Party chairman and attorney Mark Brewer is preparing to sue state officials over what he alleges is an “unconstitutional partisan gerrymander” that has helped Republicans consolidate power but minimized the voice of Democratic voters he will represent. The pending lawsuit seeks to build on a recent federal court ruling in Wisconsin, where a three-judge panel ruled in a 2-1 decision that the state’s Republican-led Legislature crafted a plan for political district boundaries that “systematically dilutes the voting strength of Democratic voters statewide.” The U.S. District Court panel last week ordered Wisconsin to redraw its maps ahead of the 2018 election, but the state is expected to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. “Our clients believe that the current Michigan legislative and congressional redistricting plans are similarly flawed,” Brewer wrote this week in a letter he said he sent to roughly 60 state legislators, staffers and other officials involved in redrawing district boundaries following the 2010 U.S. Census.
A conservative economic analysis firm on Monday released a report saying a comprehensive review of Michigan’s voting data shows no widespread voter fraud in the state, a point echoed last week by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. The report by East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group was prompted by claims of election tampering by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein as well as President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated assertion that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election. Trump argued that millions of illegal votes came from “those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even those registered to vote who are dead,” a point that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said could refer to states like New York and California where the Republican businessman did not campaign.
Michigan: Detroit clerk addresses troubled election; state audit shows no proof of voter fraud | Michigan Radio
Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey has broken her public silence about irregularities in the city’s November’s election results. Michigan’s presidential recount was halted mid-process. But the partial recount revealed that more than half of Detroit precincts were legally ineligible to be recounted, because reported vote counts didn’t match the actual number of ballots. That prompted the state to launch an audit, which is still wrapping up. Winfrey has said very little during that time. But state elections officials have now said there is no evidence of fraud, a finding Winfrey reiterated that at a press conference Friday. Instead, she said it mostly revealed a lot of “human error” at the “precinct level.”
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is moving forward with plans to replace aging voting machines around the state with “next generation” systems by August 2018. The State Administrative Board on Tuesday unanimously approved up to $82.1 million in spending over the next 10 years under contracts with three vendors who will supply new tabulator machines, election-management software and maintenance agreements. The state is expected to cover about $40 million of the spending, including most up-front costs, leaving local communities to foot the rest of the bill. Cost-sharing requirements will vary by community depending on which vendor local clerks select. “The new equipment offers voters all the speed and convenience of the latest ballot-scanning and election-night reporting technology while at the same time featuring a good, old-fashioned paper ballot that we can always go back and look at if we need to,” Johnson said in a statement.
Michigan limped through the last election on machines that were more than a decade old, but clerks across the state will soon purchase new ones under contracts approved by the State Administrative Board on Tuesday. “Every election currently, we’re always dealing with different types of mechanical breakdowns … just because the equipment is old and it’s time to upgrade to new technology,” said City of Walker Clerk Sarah Bydalek, who is president of the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks. Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum said the old machines her precincts use come with humidity issues, and jam if ballots absorb too much moisture. But clerks are expecting those issues to decrease with a statewide rollout of new voting machines by Aug. 2018. The State Administrative Board approved 10-year contracts with three different vendors: Dominion Voting Systems, Election Systems and Software and Hart InterCivic. Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams said each county clerk would choose a system to go with, and local clerks in that county would purchase that system.
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said Thursday voting irregularities in Detroit and elsewhere in Michigan that spurred a state audit of the city’s ballots are prompting consideration of expanding post-election audits. Voting machines in more than one-third of all Detroit precincts registered more votes than they should have during the presidential election, according to Wayne County records prepared at the request of The Detroit News. The voting irregularities prompted an audit of the city’s ballots following the election. “We’ve done 1,400 of them, and we’re going to be looking at how we can broaden those audits even further,” Johnson said after a celebration of Michigan’s 180th anniversary as a state, without providing further details. “We’re looking at that right now because we’re doing some auditing of some of the communities that had some issues, and then we’ll know more exactly what we need to do because there’s nothing more important to democracy than making sure that we have great elections.” Detailed reports from the office of Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett show optical scanners at 248 of Detroit’s 662 precincts, or 37 percent, tabulated more ballots than the number of voters tallied by workers in the poll books.
New voting equipment will be available for the next statewide election in August 2018 after the Michigan Secretary of State announced the selection of three vendors Tuesday that local clerks can use for future elections. The pricetag will not be cheap. The state administrative board approved contracts Tuesday with the three vendors that will cost between $52 million and $82 million. The state has $30 million leftover from the federal Help America Vote Act funds that were provided to states for new equipment after the 2000 elections. And the Legislature approved an additional $10 million last year to pay for the new machines. And while that will cover the majority of the cost for the new system, Fred Woodhams, spokesman for Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, said Tuesday that there will be a cost for local communities of roughly $1,000 to $2,000 per precinct. Some communities have a minimal number of precincts, but for cities like Detroit, Warren, Southfield and Grand Rapids, the costs could be significant. Detroit has nearly 500 precincts, while Grand Rapids has 77, Warren has 58 and Southfield has 36.