State Rep. Matt Hall, chair of the House Oversight Committee, recently held a joint hearing with the Senate Oversight Committee to review the Auditor General’s performance audit of the state’s Bureau of Elections (BOE).
The BOE is housed within the Michigan Department of State and was established to assist with the administration of the Secretary of State’s election-related duties and responsibilities. Among these is compiling and maintaining the Qualified Voter File, which is a list of all registered voters in Michigan. The BOE also offers guidance and training to local clerks and other election officers who independently administer the elections.
The Auditor General’s performance audit of the BOE revealed few but significant shortcomings, calling into question the effectiveness off the bureau’s ability to oversee Michigan elections. The Auditor General found the bureau did not have proper controls in place over the statewide voter list to help decrease the risk of ineligible voters casting a ballot. Rep. Hall noted the audit uncovered a considerable amount of voter files that should have been removed from the statewide voter list.
“When the bureau fails to remove those who are deceased from the state voter file, it opens the door to election fraud,” Hall said. “The bureau needs to take greater action to ensure dead people are not participating in Michigan elections. While living 100 years is an impressive feat, I find it very unlikely that there is anyone over the age of 122 exercising their right to vote.”
The audit found the BOE did not properly remove access for every employee or contractor who left their position. Consequently, the audit revealed multiple occurrences of a former state employee successfully logging into the statewide voting list.
“The bureau cannot maintain the integrity of the state voter file if former employees are able to access the state voter list and perform voter searches,” Hall said. “Even if no records were altered, what’s stopping someone with ill-intent from deleting or editing voter files of roughly 7.5 million Michiganders? The bureau must improve its control over the state voter file to prevent inappropriate access and protect voter information.”
Hall highlighted one of the audit findings pertaining to local clerks not having the proper training to rightly administer elections. Of the 1,603 jurisdictions in Michigan requiring a clerk, 340 lacked a full accredited election official.
“The major hiccups that materialized during the recent Iowa Caucuses bear witness to the importance of properly trained election officials,” Hall said. “We have got to make sure what unfolded in Iowa does not does take place here in Michigan, and that starts with making sure the bureau is overseeing the training of local clerks.”