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Statewide risk-limiting election audit process to begin at 11 a.m.

Bipartisan effort to hand-count randomly-selected paper ballots
expected to affirm accuracy of presidential results 

The Michigan Department of State (MDOS), in cooperation with county and local election officials, will begin the process of conducting the statewide risk-limiting audit of the November 2020 general election Monday morning. A bipartisan group of officials will be conducting the first step in the process via livestream at 11 a.m. A link to the livestream will be posted on MDOS social media.

“Post-election audits are an important part of the elections process and are critical to both affirming the accuracy of the results and reinforcing citizen trust in the system,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “This year more than ever, with the high volume of misinformation spread about what was an incredibly safe, secure and accurate election, conducting this bipartisan process openly and transparently is an important step in ensuring Michigan voters understand the truth about the security and integrity of our election system.”

The first step in the process involves using a random number, generated by rolling 20 ten-sided dice, to plug into the auditing software to randomly select ballots that will be pulled from any one of Michigan’s 1,520 local election jurisdictions and hand-reviewed. More than 18,000 ballots are expected to be retrieved in over half of the state’s election jurisdictions, more local jurisdictions than have ever participated in such an audit anywhere in the nation.

Following the random number generation, clerks will have two weeks to draw the corresponding ballots and review them. Once the process has been completed in each county MDOS will announce the results of the comparison between the randomly selected hand-reviewed ballots and the statewide machine-tabulated totals.

“Those spreading debunked conspiracy theories or trafficking in misinformation have done significant damage to the trust many have in our election system, and our democracy, but there is a path forward,” said Secretary Benson. “Conducting audits like these, which we have been preparing to do since my administration began, arms us with the facts and data needed to not only confirm the election results, but to restore faith in our elections and our democracy as a whole.” 

Risk limiting audits are used to confirm the accuracy of ballot tabulation machines, by comparing the results from the hand count of the randomly selected paper ballots to the previously printed results from the machines. Michigan’s long-planned statewide audit is expected to confirm within a statistical level of certainty the results of the statewide presidential contest. A pilot audit after the presidential primary in March of 2020 already demonstrated the accuracy of Michigan’s elections.

The statewide risk-limiting audit will be conducted as Michigan counties, cities and townships continue carrying out more than 200 local procedural audits across the state, most of which have already been completed. All completed audits have confirmed the integrity and accuracy of local elections.

A link to the livestream of the bipartisan dice roll will be available on MDOS social media pages. Questions for the streaming or sharing of individual county ballot draws should be directed to the appropriate clerk.

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