‘Discrepancies and Irregularities’ Still Plague Michigan Election Practices, Group Says

‘Discrepancies and Irregularities’ Still Plague Michigan Election Practices, Group Says
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a news conference in Lansing, Mich., on March 5, 2020. (David Eggert/AP Photo)
Steven Kovac
6/1/2023
Updated:
6/6/2023
0:00

Thousands of names of dead people remain on Michigan’s voter registration rolls, and the public, through ballot initiatives, has embraced mail-in voting, ballot drop boxes, extended early voting, election audit restrictions, and a weakened photo ID requirement.

The election reforms took place even as an invigorated grassroots movement sough to tighten election security. Election Integrity Force (EIF), one of the grassroots groups, has been recruiting and training poll workers and watchers in order to put more eyes on the election process.

EIF is also asking citizens to file criminal complaints against the Michigan Secretary of State’s office and the Michigan Bureau of Elections for allegedly altering voter registration and voter history records in violation of the law.

A little-publicized partial recount by EIF of the results of two 2022 statewide ballot proposals, Proposal 2 and Proposal 3, surfaced recently, showing that serious irregularities continue to bedevil election administration in Michigan.

Michigan election integrity activist Braden Giacobazzi addresses a crowd in St. Clair, Mich., on May 22, 2023. (Steven Kovac/Epoch Times)
Michigan election integrity activist Braden Giacobazzi addresses a crowd in St. Clair, Mich., on May 22, 2023. (Steven Kovac/Epoch Times)

Problems Ignored

Recount participant Braden Giacobazzi told The Epoch Times in a May 31 interview: “We are not about trying to change the outcome of an election. The purpose of the recount was to verify the accuracy of the original vote count and to verify that all procedures and processes were conducted lawfully. As it turned out, we could do neither, and nothing has been done to fix it.”

The group discovered that 59 percent of the precincts where it looked at the results of Proposal 3 were either uncountable or the recounted totals didn’t match the original official vote totals.

According to state law, during a recount, an entire precinct is declared uncountable if it’s discovered that the seal of a ballot bag has been broken or there are holes or rips in the bag.

“Eighty-six percent of the 43 counties had at least one precinct which was either uncountable or had recount totals that did not match the original official totals,” Giacobazzi said.

During the recount of the results of Proposal 2—which was to require absentee ballot drop boxes in every community and allow affidavits in lieu of photo ID—in 47 precincts spanning four counties, EIF recount challengers found that 70 percent of those precincts were either uncountable or had recounted vote totals that didn’t match the original official totals.

“We went in expecting things to be bad, but not this bad. Not this widespread,” Giacobazzi said.

Negligence or Malpractice?

“What we found was sloppy administration amounting to gross negligence at best or systematic malpractice at worst.

“Regardless of how it happened, it is illegal to have holes in ballot bags and have broken seals.

“When we asked for an investigation, our multiple requests were denied.”

Giacobazzi told The Epoch Times that state election officials add insult to injury; not content to just do nothing, they actively work against election integrity activists.

As an example, he said that the state’s initial estimate of the cost of a recount, which it’s legally required to furnish, was $76,000.

The price soon escalated to nearly half a million dollars.

“The prohibitive price was used as a deterrent. They never thought we could raise that much money. When we did, the bureaucracy really had to scramble,” Giacobazzi said.

A Tangled Legal System

He said that EIF has more than 20 election integrity lawsuits it could take to court, but the group has been hindered by a lack of money.

“And, even if we had the money, there is a lack of attorneys willing to represent us because of fear of retribution.

“Local officials tell us to take our complaints to the Attorney General. The irony is the Attorney General [Democrat Dana Nessel] is the lawyer for the Secretary of State’s office and the Bureau of Elections.”

Citizen activist Scott Aughney speaks at an election integrity rally in St. Clair, Mich., on May 22, 2023. (Steven Kovac/Epoch Times)
Citizen activist Scott Aughney speaks at an election integrity rally in St. Clair, Mich., on May 22, 2023. (Steven Kovac/Epoch Times)

Is Local Law Enforcement the Answer?

Activist Scott Aughney spoke to a crowd of about 120 concerned citizens gathered at a church in St. Clair, Michigan, on May 22, about the legal strategy of using local law enforcement, county prosecutors, and citizen grand juries to go after state election officials for violating the law.

Aughney encouraged the audience to go to their local municipal or county clerk and ask for their own personal voting history and personal change history records.

When the local voting records are cross-checked with the state’s voter registration list, many voters will be amazed to learn the two databases don’t match up, he said.

Discrepancies Abound

Some of the most common discrepancies are differing voter ID numbers for the same person, a person listed as having voted absentee when, in fact, they voted in person, and people recorded on the state list as living in and voting from an inaccurate address.

A number of voters have discovered that the state records list them as living in a county in which they don’t reside or as having voted in a municipality they were not living in at the time of an election.

A woman in the audience from the city of St. Clair Shores in Macomb County named Ellen Smith told The Epoch Times, “What is shocking to me is people don’t see Michigan as one of the worst states in the nation for imbalances between state and local records.”

“Why are the records originating with the local clerk being changed when entered into the state’s database? It is illegal for anyone to alter official records, which are meant to reflect an accurate picture of reality at a point in time,” Macomb County resident Michael Butz said in a May 30 interview with The Epoch Times.

Recently, Butz was astounded to learn that Bureau of Elections records showed that he voted for more than 12 years in Bruce Township, a Macomb County community he first moved into in December 2022.

Taking Action

Butz has since filed a criminal complaint against the Michigan Secretary of State’s office and the state Bureau of Elections, alleging that they have violated state and federal laws by not accurately preserving his personal voting records.

The complaint is currently being evaluated by the office of Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney Peter Lucido, a Republican.

Lucido didn’t return a phone call from The Epoch Times.

On May 31, The Epoch Times emailed the office of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson asking for an explanation of the discrepancies between the state voter roll and local voter rolls regarding different voter ID numbers, addresses, voting histories, and methods of voting.

As of press time, no response has been received.

Butz told The Epoch Times that he first became involved in the election reform movement after the 2020 presidential election.

“I just knew something was not right,” he said. “I started trying to make a difference as a volunteer post-election door-to-door canvasser in Armada Township.”

Using official state voting records, Butz and other volunteers knocked on the doors of thousands of homes throughout Macomb County from which people were listed as having voted absentee in November 2020.

“I found that one-third of the dozens of households that I personally visited said that there was nobody living there by that name. The percentage was about 5 to 8 percent in the wider vicinity that we worked in.”

Butz told The Epoch Times that he sees himself as “an agent of truth in a world of deception.”

“This isn’t political. This is the future of our country,“ he said. ”Free and fair elections [are] all we have.”

Steven Kovac reports for The Epoch Times from Michigan. He is a general news reporter who has covered topics related to rising consumer prices to election security issues. He can be reached at [email protected]
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