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Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson shares findings of state’s election audits

Benson said a hand count of every ballot cast for president in Antrim County found the Dominion machines used were “extremely accurate.”
Governor Gretchen Whitmer (right back) and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (left front)...
Governor Gretchen Whitmer (right back) and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (left front) during a Sept. 16, 2020, press conference.(State of Michigan)
Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 9:56 AM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Tuesday Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced the completion of and shared findings from the state’s election audits.

Benson called the audits “the most comprehensive series of audits ever conducted in the state” with more than 250 audits conducted across the state with the vast majority led by county clerks who received support and complete transparency from city and township clerks.

More than 1,3000 republican, democratic and non-partisan clerks, as well as the State Bureau of Elections, examined the paper ballots cast in the November 2020 election, the machines that tabulated them, and the procedures followed by election workers to affirm the results of the election accurately reflect the will of the voters.

The election saw a record-setting turnout with more than 5.5 million citizens casting ballots in the general election, 3.3 million casting their ballots absentee, and nearly 30,000 eligible citizens registering and voting on Election Day.

“The result was that within 24 hours after the polls closed - far more quickly than expected - all valid ballots had been counted and the results were announced,” Benson said. “Unfortunately, Michigan’s Clerks were still not allowed to celebrate their job well done nor rest as their work was immediately attacked by the lies, meritless conspiracy theories, and uninformed observation of the former president and his supporters. Yet they stood strong and over the past several months have worked across party lines to fairly and ethically audit one another’s election procedures and outcomes. What they found in each and every one of the more than 250 audits conducted is that Michigan’s election was the most secure in our state’s history and the results accurately reflect the will of the voters. This finding eradicates any rationale for continuing to question the integrity of the election and validity of the outcome.”

Benson said a hand count of every ballot cast for president in Antrim County found the Dominion machines used were “extremely accurate” and another hand count of more than 18,000 randomly selected ballots from jurisdictions across the state affirmed the tabulation machines throughout Michigan had accurately counted and determined the winner of the presidential election.

Auditors of Detroit’s Absentee Counting Board found that local election officials had properly counted 174,000 valid ballots that corresponded to signed envelopes that were submitted by registered voters and reviewed by the clerk’s office.

“They found that the reason many of the counting boards were left out of balance without explanation at the end of the county canvas, was simply because canvassers ran out of time,” Benson said. “But with more time on their side, the auditors balanced or explained 83% of the city’s absentee counting boards, up from 27% in November. In fact, the net number of ballots out of balance was just 17. That’s less than one-hundredth of one percent of the 174,000 ballots that election officials had to race to process, count, and canvas.”

The same trend was present in the other three audits conducted of absentee counting boards in Grand Rapids, Livonia, and Sterling Heights.

“All were found to have many more boards and balances explainable than had been when the county canvas closed, demonstrating what is frankly common sense: jurisdictions with higher populations needed more time to process and canvas absentee ballots,” said Benson. “Of course, that is what clerks and I had been asking of the State Legislature for more than a year, only to be granted - right before Election Day - an insufficient 10 hours for pre-processing of absentee ballots. Meanwhile, Florida had given its clerks more than a month.”

Benson went on to say that she repeated her call to grant clerks more time in the legislative agenda she announced last month to advance the vote and protect democracy. Specifically, she asked for clerks to receive two weeks to process absentee ballots prior to Election Day and an additional week to canvas afterward.

“While I stand in support of secure and accurate elections that include post-election audits, out of balance precincts simply do not merit the criticism that has been heaped on them by officials seeking to undermine faith in the elections of some of our most populous cities,” Benson continued. “These efforts are dangerous, racist, and are undertaken for personal and political gain. There are also completely meritless as proven by these audits and must be treated as such in the future. No leader or person of power - elected or otherwise - should have ever played political games with the integrity of our elections. Those who did must stop now. These audits, carried out by hundreds of clerks across the political spectrum and hailing from all parts of the state, make it clear that it is time to acknowledge the truth and move forward.”

Benson said the data shows citizens on both sides of the aisle have every reason to have faith in the results of our elections.

“For the leaders who are lying to them to serve political agendas, to stoke racial animus, to further political gains - they have to stop because the evidence does not support anything they are saying,” Benson said. “Citizens have to think critically, have to listen, to what is being told to them that is not true. Question it. Look at the evidence, because the evidence is there. Once election officials and leaders on both sides of the aisle commit to working from the same set of facts and the truth, we can actually move forward and have discussions on how to continue to advance the vote and improve democracy in the future. Those are the discussions I want to have.

“The announcement today, the evidence today, shows where there has been intense scrutiny over this past election in Michigan, we have responded by simply providing even more transparency, even more examination of the evidence. All of that additional focus has found that indeed the results of the election are an accurate reflection of the will of the people. Now it’s up to every leader to acknowledge that truth, to affirm that truth, to stop spreading misinformation, and for all of our citizens to call on their leaders to do the same.”

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