Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election in Michigan by a count of 2,804,040 votes to Donald Trump’s 2,649,852 votes. As in other swing states won by Biden, the Trump camp filed numerous lawsuits claiming voter fraud and systemic irregularities without significant evidence. Also in Michigan, a group of Trump backers traveled to Antrim County and gained unauthorized access to voting machines in order to conduct an “audit” on them. That breach of security has 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, it was reported that Matthew DePerno, the Trump-backed GOP nominee for attorney general in the 2022 election, 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. The Secretary of State’s audit was followed by the state Auditor General’s examination of a conspiracy theory alleging that a significant number of votes were cast by dead people released its final report in March 2022, debunking the conspiracy theory.
- Throughout the early part of 2021, right wing activists demanded an Arizona-style “forensic audit”. The advocates rejected the conclusions of the Michigan Secretary of State that there was no systemic fraud in the 2020 election. Patrick Colbeck, a former Republican Michigan state lawmaker, held prayer rallies that called for renewed audits, explaining “If you wonder why we’re doing this at a prayer rally, that’s because we recognize that this is a spiritual battle.” The prayer rallies were joined by a petition drive led by Michigan Republican Party Grassroots Vice Chair Marian Sheridan.
- In June 2021, State Rep. Steve Carra, (R-Three Rivers) introduced a bill in the Michigan Legislature which would 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. Rep. Carra defended his bill stating “I think we should verify the election results. It’s the No. 1 issue I’m hearing about from people in the community.”
- In December 2021, a group of Trump supporters demanded a forensic audit of Michigan’s 2020 results funded by anonymous sources. The primary proponent of the additional audit was John Rocha, a Republican state House candidate endorsed by Trump. Rocha said that an audit should have anonymous private donors because it would prevent people from getting “shamed and doxxed.”
- Both the audits by the Secretary of State and the Auditor General concluded that there was no systemic fraud in the 2020 election that would have undermined Biden’s victory in Michigan.
- In response to the audit completed March 2021, the Michigan 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, saying 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 stating, “Every month, the state is required by law to check the death rolls to make sure people are being removed. The audit showed that clearly was not being done.”