FEBRUARY 9, 2017
Statewide audit of possible double voting also released
The Michigan Bureau of Elections today released its audit findings for 136 Detroit precincts from the Nov. 8, 2016 general election, largely finding that human error, not illegal activity, resulted in mismatches between the number of ballots and recorded voters.
Elections staff found no evidence of pervasive voter fraud or that widespread voting equipment failure led to the imbalances. To correct the problems identified in the audit, Bureau of Elections staff will work collaboratively with city officials to better train Election Day precinct workers beginning with the Aug. 8 city primary election.
The audit found that the precinct imbalances, which did not affect the ability of Detroit residents to cast a ballot and have their vote counted, almost entirely were caused by precinct worker mistakes, specifically:
Elections staff was able to bring 65 precincts into balance and also greatly reduced the extent of mismatches in the remaining precincts. The total number of ballots in question in the remaining precincts was less than 600 out of 250,000 total cast citywide, and Elections staff was able to reduce that number to less than 200. Staff interviewed city employees and reviewed election records, including voted ballots, voter applications, precinct poll books and the city’s training materials. All audited precincts had a mismatch between ballots and recorded voters of three or more.
As part of a separate, statewide review of the Nov. 8 election, Bureau of Elections staff discovered 31 individuals who appear to have voted twice — once by absentee ballot and again by voting in person on Election Day — who will be referred to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office for criminal investigation. The review is ongoing and more individuals may be referred.
In response to the Detroit audit findings, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has directed Bureau of Elections staff to work closely with Detroit election workers — similar to how Elections staff assisted city of Flint election workers in 2015 and 2016 after performance issues were identified. Elections staff, alongside city employees, will:
Under Johnson’s leadership, Michigan has made important election law and administrative reforms that have led to a vast reduction statewide in the number of precincts that can’t be reviewed during a recount, including:
“The city of Detroit and the entire state have made progress in election administration in recent years, but this audit highlights key areas in need of improvement,” Johnson said. “I have directed Bureau of Elections staff to assist city election officials in making needed changes to poll worker training and recruitment efforts. Voters in Detroit and across Michigan deserve no less.
“As part of our far-reaching anti-fraud efforts, my office will aggressively root out illegal voting. All cases of voter fraud will be reported for criminal investigation and prosecution.”
For media questions, please call Fred Woodhams at 517-373-2520.
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