Michigan performs risk-limiting election audit

Clerks around the state are pulling individual ballots to make sure they were recorded properly after the polls closed on November 3.
Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 4:23 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan is now auditing its election results.

Clerks around the state are pulling individual ballots to make sure they were recorded properly after the polls closed on November 3.

Lansing is one of many cities taking part in the risk-limiting election audit. Thursday, election officials across the state reviewed a sample of ballots to make sure the tabulated voting system accurately captured votes.

Out of 5.6 million ballots cast in the 2020 election in Michigan, the state randomly selected 18,000 from various counties and jurisdictions. The goal is to make sure the certified results are accurate.

Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope said, “Its randomly drawn. We’re looking for that specific ballot so we aren’t skewing the results. So if in precinct 14 it says we need to look for ballot 610, we have to count down to ballot number 610 and that’s the one were looking at.”

Lansing needs to verify 165 ballots while Meridian Township Clerk Deborah Guthrie said they have 68 ballots to verify. But, it takes time as the township was given nearly thousands of ballots to sift through.

In Meridian Township there are two teams of volunteers to audit the ballots. There is one republican and one democrat on each team.

Swope said it’s a great system, but said the audit should be done before the results are certified.

“Its a requirement now of the Michigan constitution,” Swope said. “It was passed in 2018 by the voters. Unfortunately, the legislature after that passed-- they enacted a law that said the timing of it would be after certification and that it would not impact the results. Many other states that are doing these types of audits are doing it before certification and if they were to find an error they would correct it. I think its the appropriate thing to do. I think Michigan’s law needs to be changed.”

However, Swope and Guthrie are confident the job was done right.

Guthrie said, “The results from today, once the county verifies these or matches these up against the voting machines, I expect the results to be the same as what is on the paper ballots. I don’t expect any difference. I expect the voters to gain confidence in the system we have here in place.”

Swope said the audit is the gold standard for verifying election results. He said its supported by mathematicians and scientists.

“I have faith that the votes counted in Lansing and in the state of Michigan are accurate reflection of what the voters voted for,” said Swope.

Precincts must submit their results to their county by noon tomorrow.

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