Michigan House Republicans
Audit requested by Rep. Alexander exposes misleading by SOS Benson, affirms legislative efforts to strengthen election integrity
RELEASE|March 4, 2022

After a nonpartisan audit revealed failure by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to administer elections according to the law, state Rep. Julie Alexander today said the audit she helped initiate affirms the need for the Legislature’s ongoing efforts to improve electoral processes and strengthen election integrity.

The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) today released its findings in an audit of the Bureau of Elections (BOE) at the Department of State. Alexander, R-Hanover, wrote to the auditor general in March 2021 to request an audit of key election processes. While analyzing the bureau’s handling of its legal responsibilities related to voter file maintenance, post-election audit procedures and training for local election officials, the audit revealed that Benson and her team did not properly review the voter rolls to remove deceased voters. Additionally, although Benson has often touted the post-election audits that she has overseen, the audit found that 16.7% of 2020 audits did not include a hand count of the correct statewide contest.

“Elections are the foundation of our democratic republic,” Alexander said. “Free, fair and secure elections are crucial as we choose our legislators, governors and presidents, and as we vote directly on ballot proposals. The integrity of our elections must be above reproach. My fellow legislators and I are laser-focused on cleaning up the voter rolls and securing our elections.

“Meanwhile, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has misled the public and the Legislature about her failure to administer our valuable post-election audits. She also failed to remove dead voters from the rolls as mandated by state law — even after a previous warning from the auditor general. The latest audit of her department’s shortcomings only affirms the importance of our legislative efforts to strengthen election integrity.”

The OAG revealed discrepancies based on addresses and deaths that should be corrected to ensure the qualified voter file (QVF) is accurate. For elections conducted between May 2019 and November 2020, the audit identified 41 voters who died more than 40 days before the election but had a ballot counted under their name; 20 of those instances occurred in the November 2020 election. By law, the secretary of state is required to check the QVF and remove deceased voters at least monthly, and the OAG previously told the BOE to correct the issue in a December 2019 performance audit. Alexander and the House last year unanimously approved House Bill 4491, which would streamline the process for local officials to remove deceased voters from the QVF. Another legislative package that passed the House with bipartisan support would require the secretary of state to verify the QVF and remove ineligible voters.

The auditor general’s report also found that the BOE failed to oversee post-election audits properly. Of the 239 post-election audits completed in local jurisdictions after the November 2020 election, 40 did not include a hand count of the U.S. Senate race as instructed by the BOE. Of these, 12 did not include a hand count for any statewide race. Despite Benson’s praise for the post-election audits, her BOE failed to confirm that they were conducted according to state law and her own guidelines. Bureau staff informed the OAG that they were unaware that the proper hand counts were not submitted, but they could have easily verified that information by checking the BOE’s digital system. The audit recommended that the BOE “improve its oversight and reporting of the post-election audits assigned to county clerks.” Alexander urged the bureau to work more closely with local clerks to ensure that they have the information and tools they need to conduct audits by the book.

“With this new information in mind, I will continue working to strengthen our elections so voters can make their voices heard and confidently participate in our government,” Alexander said.


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