Michigan GOP officials and activists push for 2020 election audit
LANSING – At least two Michigan Republican Party officials help pressure the GOP-led state legislature to order a full ‘forensic’ audit of the 2020 state election won by Democratic President Joe Biden, according to emails obtained by Bridge Michigan.
Grassroots Vice President Marian Sheridan and Coalitions Vice President Tami Carlone, longtime supporters of former President Donald Trump, urge Republican activists to complete an affidavit requiring an audit and send it to Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake.
In separate emails in late May sent to GOP activists, Sheridan and Carlone said the affidavit form she circulated was prepared by attorney Matt DePerno, who sued unsuccessfully to demand an audit in County Antrim despite a full count that confirmed the official results.
The goal, GOP officials said, was to boost the type of independent audit currently being conducted in Maricopa County, Arizona, where Trump’s false claims that the election was “rigged” have forced the State Senate to order an audit which experts compared to a circus supporter.
“I know it takes a little time and a little money – but that’s what worked in AZ! Carlone wrote in an email to Michigan Republican Party delegates, which she signed with her official state party title. “Letting the Democrats run our state and our nation will cost us a lot more time and money!” “
Sheridan, in a separate email, told activists they could sign the affidavit in front of a notary at the Walled Lake “Trump Office” of the Michigan Conservative Coalition, an activist group co-founded by the Michigan GOP co-chair. , Meshawn Maddock.
“We have to have them by June 8 to be delivered by us to Lansing,” Sheridan wrote atop an email with detailed instructions. “Please help us in this effort to pressure Mike Shirkey and other key government officials to conduct a statewide forensic audit. “
When asked about the lobbying campaign, Shirkey’s office noted that the GOP-led Senate was already debating reforms “to restore confidence in our electoral system.” Senator Ed McBroom, a Vulcan Republican who investigated the allegations as chairman of the oversight committee, told Bridge he was aware “people have been asking (an audit) for months” but declined to comment more.
The push highlights a divide among Michigan Republicans, some of whom continue to push Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election. Pro-Trump activists have previously called on Michigan GOP executive director Jason Roe to resign in because of comments he made last fall that Trump lost because he “blew up” and the election “was not stolen.”
Roe told Bridge that the state party was not directly involved in the audit campaign and instead focused on the defeat of Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson l ‘next year.
“We have a big tent in the Republican Party with a lot of people with a lot of different points of view, and there are obviously people within the elected leadership of the party who want to make sure that what happened in 2020 doesn’t happen again, ”says Roe.
“If they want to take this route, they obviously have the right to do so. We’re focused on 2022 and the things we can control, and we can control what the Republican Party does to win the next election. Unfortunately, we cannot control a campaign that was already lost.
Lawmaker pursues reforms, not audits
Biden won Michigan by 154,188 votes, according to official election results certified by a bipartisan board of state and congressional solicitors.
Republican officials and activists calling for an audit argue that Michigan’s Constitution, as amended by voters in 2018, gives all voters – or voters – the right to have election results audited across the country. Condition “as prescribed by law”.
But Michigan lawmakers have already “prescribed” how audits are conducted in Michigan, and in doing so, they have not created a mechanism for independent auditing by a non-government entity.
Instead, a State Law updated in late 2018 gives the Secretary of State exclusive authority to develop audit procedures and empowers state and local election clerks to conduct such reviews.
Officials have already conducted 250 local audits across the state after the 2020 election, according to a recent report by Michigan Bureau of Elections Director Jonathan Brater, who called the process “the largest in Michigan’s history.”
The legislature could not order its own audit without changing state law, said attorney Steve Liedel, a Democrat who served as chief legal counsel to former Governor Jennifer Granholm. This means they would need a signature from Whitmer who would be sure to veto any enabling legislation.
It is also unlikely that the legislature could order Michigan’s auditor general to review the election, as the constitution limits that office’s role to financial and performance reviews, Liedel told Bridge.
“We have a lot of people who like to quote the Constitution when it suits them,” he said.
“This is part of the ‘big lie’ going back to the false testimony of Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis of the Trump campaign that the legislature allowed to happen,” Liedel added, referring to a December hearing into the fraud allegations election in Lansing.
In Arizona, the Republican-led state Senate hired a company called Cyber Ninjas conduct an independent audit. The CEO of the company had previously promoted unsubstantiated fraud allegations, and the audit was marred by mismanagement.
As Carlone and Sheridan push for a similar audit, the state party is focused on winning the election in 2022, Roe said. “As we’re focused on 2020, it’s about setting the law and the rules so that things that happened in 2020 don’t happen again.”
The Michigan GOP is embroiled in petition plans to try to tighten election laws in the wake of the 2020 election, a rare but constitutional move that would allow the legislature to pass reforms without Whitmer’s signature.
The state party would not be leading the petition campaign itself, but “I know there are plans to create an entity that we will support,” Roe told reporters.
Michigan Senate debates 39-bill electoral reform program that would, among other things, tighten state voter identification laws, limit absentee ballot hours, and ban officials election to provide free return shipping costs.
Republicans say the bills are designed to boost confidence in elections, but opponents have called them a form of “voter suppression” that would have a disproportionate impact on minority voters more likely to vote Democratic.
The GOP will not be launching a petition until Whimer vetoes the legislation, which could make it difficult to get the initiative through the legislature this year for new laws to come into effect by the next year. 2022 elections.
“I think that’s a better argument for us than… she ignores the will of the people,” Roe said. “It will be a citizens ‘initiative that reflects the overall majority of Michiganders’ views on what they think we should be doing regarding electoral reform.”
Support for voter identification
Voter ID laws, which Republicans have long sought to tighten up in Michigan, pose a good question to the general public, Roe noted.
According to a survey of 600 voters across the state conducted for the Detroit Regional House, which was released on Monday, about 80% of voters support mandatory voter identification for in-person voting, as proposed in a Republican bill that would remove an option allowing voters in person without ID to vote if they sign an affidavit attesting to their identity, under penalty of perjury.
But there is opposition to some of the GOP’s other electoral reform proposals, according to the May poll by Glengariff Group Inc.
Only 36 percent of voters support the bill prohibiting election officials from providing free postage on mail-in ballots, for example, while 40 percent support banning unsolicited requests for unsolicited mail-in ballots. .
Overall, 65% of Michigan voters believe the state’s elections are already safe and secure, according to the poll. This is true among Democratic and Independent voters, but a slim majority of Republican voters do not believe Michigan’s elections are safe and secure.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise given the conversation going” in Republican circles, pollster Richard Czuba said. “This is the community that besides Michigan’s problems and an overwhelming majority of independent voters believe our elections are safe and secure.”