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Michigan legislature committees subpoena election evidence from Detroit and nearby suburb

“Election integrity should not be a partisan issue, this information needs to be preserved,” State Senator Ruth Johnson said

Updated: December 16, 2020 - 8:02pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Concerned about possible election evidence being destroyed, members of a joint session of the Michigan Legislature’s House and Senate oversight committees on Tuesday voted to issue subpoenas to Detroit and the nearby suburb of Livonia demanding they surrender hard drives, emails, absentee voter counting board laptops and other election-related materials.

One Senate Democrat reportedly joined his Republican colleagues in supporting the subpoenas. 

A Nov. 28 order memo from the State Bureau of Elections had followed the same protocol as prior elections and ordered the deletion by November 30 of “E-Pollbook laptops and flash drives … unless a petition for recount has been filed and the recount has not been completed, a post-election audit is planned but has not yet been completed, or the deletion of the data has been stayed by an order of the court or the Secretary of State.”

Tracy Wimmer, director of Media Relations for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, told Just the News in a statement Thursday that she rejected Republicans’ concerns about the deletion memo.

“The Bureau of Elections memo sent to clerks is the same memo that has been sent to clerks for years, including under the administration of now state senator Ruth Johnson,” Wimmer said. “Republican House and Senate legal counsel were provided this information days ago. The fact that members of their party is choosing to ignore these truths in a press release demonstrates they have no interest in preserving the integrity of our elections or democracy.”

Michigan State Senator Ruth Johnson--the Republican cited by Wimmer who also supports the subpoena effort, told Just the News she had previously signed the same deletion order while she was secretary of state but the unusual nature of the 2020 election meant circumstances had changed.

“Election integrity should not be a partisan issue, this information needs to be preserved while there are ongoing lawsuits, audits, and Oversight committee review of the November election,” Johnson said. “Only after these activities are concluded should this information be deleted for data privacy reasons.”

 "All information and records need to be preserved to ensure proper review and oversight of the election can occur," Michigan State Senator Aric Nesbitt, a Republican, told Just the News in a statement. "There must be complete confidence in our election security and vote counting process."

Read the subpoenas to the two Michigan cities below.

 


Reporter Daniel Payne contributed to this report.