Secretary of State Benson To Do Performance Edit Audit of Wayne County Votes
CBS Detroit - In Lansing Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced she will direct her agency to do a post-election performance edit in Wayne County. As reported by the Detroit Free Press, this audit comes after two Republican members on Wayne County Board of Canvassers said they wanted to retract their certification of Wayne County's election results. Based on the grounds they didn't think the state would perform an independent audit.
Benson said Thursday this is standard procedure in local jurisdictions where significant clerical errors have been found in reporting. A performance audit of Wayne County and some other areas are being planned along with a "state-wide risk-limiting audit of November's general election", Benson said in a press release. According to the Detroit Free Press, Risk-limiting audits are when a certain percentage of paper ballots are checked to confirm accuracy.
In regards to the matter of the two Republicans wanting to rescind their votes to certify the elections, Bureau of Elections spokeswoman for the Secretary of State, Tracy Wimmer, said that no legal mechanism exists for canvassing board members to rescind their votes. This is while nationally, the Republican party lead by President Donald Trump has launched several lawsuits around the country contesting the election results. Even calling Republican chairwoman Monica Palmer and fellow Republican William Hartmann to ask about their safety. Palmer told the Detroit Free Press that for hours she was attacked verbally by people, and she and her Republican colleague were called racists.
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On election night reports came in across Wayne County where a number of precincts reported discrepancies between the number of ballots recorded and the number of ballots counted. These 'out of balance' gaps did not come with suitable explanations for areas like Livonia and Detroit. Detroit has 503 precincts, and 85 recorded unexplained discrepancies. Along with that, of Detroit's 134 absent voter counting boards, 94 recorded discrepancies. According to the Detroit Free Press, most were within three votes or less. However, in the counting for Wayne County Circuit Court judge election, an error caused the Wayne county Canvassing Board to find 14,130 absentee ballots that were not counted. Initially, Palmer and fellow Republican Board member William Hartmann opposed certification. Palmer said she offered a compromise to certify other areas except Detroit, while the board was deadlocked in a 2-2 vote. However, after threats came via social media and through the public, there was pressure to certify the vote.
It's reported in Detroit and Wayne County, there were a 'significant' amount of precincts that had small discrepancies between votes recorded and ballots counted. A former elections director, Chris Thomas told the Detroit Free Press such errors are common, and due to instances such when an envelope is received but no ballot is inside.
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Benson says her audits will take place once the state election results are certified, saying "are neither designed to address nor performed in response to false or mythical allegations of 'irregularities' that have no basis in fact." There was no comment on her if other municipalities in the state would have post-election audits. Saying that to conduct the audits, the officials only have legal access after the results have been certified. "I have spoken repeatedly on the importance of post-election audits to ensure Michiganders can trust the outcome of our elections as an accurate reflection of the will of the people," Benson said to the Free press.
Benson says they have been on track to perform the state-wide risk-limiting audit of the November general election, as well as local jurisdictions. When she performed a state-wide risk-limiting audit of the March 10 primary, the results she said: "demonstrated the results of our elections are accurate and provided an extra layer of security as we prepared for November's election."
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