Former Michigan Secretary of State Calls for Audit on Election Results in Voter Fraud Lawsuit

Former Michigan Secretary of State Calls for Audit on Election Results in Voter Fraud Lawsuit
A voter casts her ballot for the Michigan presidential primary at a polling station in Warren, Mich., on March 8, 2016. (Geoff Robins/AFP via Getty Images)
Janita Kan

Former Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said the election fraud allegations made in a recent lawsuit would warrant an independent audit to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the election, according to a sworn affidavit.

Johnson, who is currently a Republican state senator, attested in an affidavit filed on Wednesday that she believes “court intervention” was necessary after reviewing allegations of election fraud detailed in a lawsuit filed earlier this week.

That lawsuit alleges election officials allowed various fraudulent processing of votes, including telling poll workers to backdate ballots, not verify signatures on absentee ballots, to ignore signature mismatches, and to push through ballots despite questionable validity.

“The allegations and issues raised by Plaintiffs are very concerning to me and, in my opinion, require court intervention,” Johnson said in her sworn affidavit (pdf).

“In particular, I am concerned about the illegal activity alleged by Plaintiffs regarding voter coaching at polling places, election staff being instructed not to request photo identification or an affidavit from persons coming to vote, and Mr. [Zachary] Larsen’s allegation that ballots were being assigned to random persons on the voter list,” she said.

Johnson, who served as Michigan’s Secretary of State from Jan. 1, 2011, to Jan. 1, 2019, added that she believes it would be proper for the court to order an independent audit on the election results.

The lawsuit includes sworn affidavits from several witnesses detailing instances of alleged election fraud. Among the witnesses is Jessy Jacob, a City of Detroit election worker, who said that she was instructed to backdate mail ballots and not to look for any deficiencies with the ballots. She also claimed she was told not to ask for identification when voters arrived to vote in person.

“On November 4, 2020, I was instructed to improperly pre-date the absentee ballots receive date that were not in the [Qualified Voter File (QVF)] as if they had been received on or before November 3, 2020. I was told to alter the information in the QVF to falsely show that the absentee ballots had been received in time to be valid. I estimate that this was done to thousands of ballots,” Jacob stated in her affidavit.

Jacob also alleged that she witnessed election workers coaching or encouraging voters to vote for Democratic nominee Joe Biden and the Democratic Party.

“I directly observed, on a daily basis, City of Detroit election workers and employees coaching and trying to coach voters to vote for Joe Biden and the Democrat party. I witnessed these workers and employees encouraging voters to do a straight Democrat ballot. I witnessed these election workers and employees going over to the voting booths with voters in order to watch them vote and coach them for whom to vote,” she attested.

Another witness, Andrew Sitto, said in his affidavit that he witnessed tens of thousands of unsealed, unsecured ballots arriving in vehicles with out-of-state license plates in Michigan’s Wayne County at 4:30 a.m. on the morning after Election Day.

“At approximately 4:30 a.m., tens of thousands of ballots were brought in and placed on eight long tables. Unlike the other ballots, these boxes were brought in from the rear of the room,” Sitto said. “The same procedure was performed on the ballots that arrived at approximately 4:30 a.m., but I specifically noticed that every ballot I observed was cast for Joe Biden.”

“While counting these new ballots, I heard counters say at least five or six times that all five or six ballots were for Joe Biden. All ballots sampled that I heard and observed were for Joe Biden,” he added.

Sitto said the election official subsequently blocked the windows of the room he was in with cardboard and refused to let him reenter after he left for a break.

The lawsuit is brought by two poll challengers—Cheryl Costantino and Edward McCall. Their lawyer, David Kallman, senior counsel of Great Lakes Justice Center, during a Wednesday hearing told the judge from the Circuit Court for the County of Wayne that voters are “entitled to [an] audit” of the results of an election under a constitutional amendment of Michigan’s Constitution.

Meanwhile, lawyers for the City of Detroit and election officials argued that the case was “not ripe for adjudication” because there is no remedy at law until the votes have been certified.

“The courts are not supposed to get involved in the middle of an election, in the middle of a count,” David Fink, a lawyer for the City of Detroit, told the judge.

He said the plaintiffs were asking the court to read the audit requirement under the state constitution as an “open-ended opportunity” for the court to order defendants to conduct an audit.

“But the court doesn’t have to do that,” Fink said while pointing out that the constitution only allows audits that are prescribed by law.

Fink said the only situation when that can occur, citing another statutory provision, is after the election when initiated by the Secretary of State.

In response, Kallman told the judge that “you can’t have an audit if the results are certified.”

“That’s the point because again the [defendants] are going to be arguing that the only remedy is a recount at that point,” Kallman said. “That’s why this is so critical.”

The judge said that he will issue a ruling on the motion by noon on Friday.

This case is cited Cheryl A. Costantino and Edward P. McCall, Jr. v. City of Detroit (20-014780-AW).
Zachary Stieber and Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.