Michigan failed to properly update voting rolls prior to 2020 election, audit finds

Audit of the Bureau of Elections concludes Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office did not adhere to state election law.
Uncounted ballots in Michigan

Michigan voting rolls were not properly updated prior to the November 2020 election, according to an audit released Friday by the Michigan Office of the Auditor General.

The audit of the Bureau of Elections concludes Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office did not adhere to state election law by properly updating and reconciling Michigan’s qualified voter roll. This oversight, according to the audit, increased the risk of ineligible voters casting ballots. Additionally, the audit identified discrepancies and inconsistencies in Benson’s statements in defense of her department’s internal post-election audits.

“The independent, nonpartisan audit released today shows that the work we have been doing in the Legislature to strengthen our elections is incredibly important,” said Rep. Ann Bollin, R-Brighton Township, chairwoman of the House Elections and Ethics Committee, said in a statement. “The Secretary of State failed to follow through on her duty to keep the state’s voter rolls clean and accurate and she failed to oversee the completion of all of the post-election audits, misleading the public along the way. These failures only highlight the importance of the work we are doing to improve election integrity.”

The audit was prompted after members of the House requested Auditor General Doug Ringler conduct a review the 2019 and 2020 election in Michigan. Ringler noted Benson’s office failed to require county clerks complete and submit post-election audits in a timely fashion.

Approximately 8.6% of the 361 post-election audits, or a total of 31 audits, were not submitted. Of the 31 audits, 12 were incomplete. Another 10.3% of post-election audits were submitted between two days and 47 days late.

Another 17% of post-election audits failed to provide a hand count of statewide race ballots – directly refuting claims by the SOS that alleged all required hand recounts were completed as required.

“… Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has misled the public and the Legislature about her failure to administer our valuable post-election audits,” Rep. Julie Alexander, R-Hanover, said in a separate statement. “She also failed to remove dead voters from the rolls as mandated by state law – even after a previous warning from the auditor general. The latest audit of her department’s shortcomings only affirms the importance of our legislative efforts to strengthen election integrity.”

The OAG reported 41 voters died at least 40 days prior to the elections held in May 2019 and November 2020. Ballots from those voters were nonetheless counted under the names of the deceased individuals.

Rep. Matt Hall, R-Marshall, issued a statement on Friday, in which he stated: “The audit found 2,775 total votes cast by electors who died prior to Election Day for eight elections spanning from May 7, 2019 to the most recent general election in November 2020. Over 99 percent of this total voted absentee and 41 of these voters died 41 days or more before an election. The report also shows people who were under 18 voted. Voter identification laws I have supported would correct these issues.”