Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election in Michigan with a count of 2,804,040 votes to Trump’s 2,649,852 votes. As in other swing states won by Biden, the Trump camp filed numerous lawsuits that made claims of voter fraud and systemic irregularities without providing significant evidence.
A group of Trump backers also traveled to Michigan’s Antrim County and gained unauthorized access to voting machines in order to conduct their own “audit” of results. That breach of security led to an investigation by the state attorney general and a call for “consequences for those who broke the law to undermine our elections in order to advance their own political agendas” from the secretary of state. In August 2022, Reuters reported that Matthew DePerno, the 2022 Trump-backed GOP nominee for attorney general, had worked with other operatives to gain access to ballot tabulation machines in Roscommon County.
In March 2021, the Michigan Secretary of State completed a comprehensive audit of the ballots cast in the general election, the machines that tabulated those ballots, and the election procedures used. Contrary to disinformation spread on Facebook, Michigan did not authorize an additional, full “forensic audit” of the 2020 election. After the secretary of state’s audit, the state auditor general independently examined a conspiracy theory alleging that a significant number of votes had been cast by dead people. Its final report released in March 2022 fully debunked the conspiracy theory.
- Throughout early 2021, right-wing activists demanded an Arizona-style “forensic audit” of results, rejecting the determination of Michigan’s secretary of state that no systemic fraud had taken place in the 2020 presidential election.
- During this period, Patrick Colbeck, a former Republican state lawmaker, held prayer rallies calling for renewed audits. “If you wonder why we’re doing this at a prayer rally,” he said, “that’s because we recognize that this is a spiritual battle.” A petition drive led by Michigan Republican Party Grassroots Vice Chair Marian Sheridan complemented the prayer rallies.
- In June 2021, State Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers) introduced a bill that ultimately failed in the Michigan Legislature to hire an independent firm to conduct an audit of the 2020 election. The bill demanded a reexamination of 10% of the precincts in each of Michigan’s 83 counties and 20% of the precincts in Detroit, the state’s largest city and a Democratic stronghold. Carra defended his bill by saying that verification of election results was “the No. 1 issue [he was] hearing about from people in the community.”
- In December 2021, a group of Trump supporters demanded a forensic audit of the state’s 2020 results funded by anonymous sources. John Rocha, a Republican candidate for state rep who had been endorsed by Trump, was the primary proponent of an additional audit funded by anonymous donors, arguing that it would prevent people from getting “shamed and doxxed.”
- Separate audits conducted by Michigan’s secretary of state and its auditor general concluded that there was no systemic fraud in the 2020 election that would have undermined Biden’s victory in the state.
- In response to the audit completed in March 2021, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson concluded, “It is time for leaders across the political spectrum to tell their constituents the truth: that our election was the most secure in history, and the results accurately reflect the will of Michigan’s voters.”
- The Michigan Auditor General report, released in March 2022, concluded that the 2020 election was conducted without significant fraud and that audits failed to find any systemic irregularities.
- Secretary of State Benson released a statement after the publication of the Auditor General’s report reiterating that “Michigan’s 2020 election was secure and the outcome accurately reflects the will of the voters.”
- Republican state lawmakers such as Rep. Ann Bollin nevertheless criticized the integrity of the 2020 election in Michigan after the release of the Auditor General’s report. She said, “We are doing some things right, but it—certainly there’s an area that needs to be corrected and also gives us an opportunity, I think, to springboard us into areas that we need to tighten up in our law.”
- Republican State Rep. Matt Hall reacted to the Auditor General’s report by complaining that “the state is required by law to check the death rolls [monthly] to make sure people are being removed [from voter lists], the audit showed that clearly was not being done.” However, the audits actually showed that a mere 0.03% of votes cast were from voters who sent in absentee ballots but then died before Election Day.