(WXYZ) — President Trump has repeatedly said mail-in ballots will lead to fraud. Michigan Republicans in a news release Wednesday morning said they found video evidence showing “gross negligence” confirming President Trump’s claims.
The news release provided two links to videos of a Lansing absentee ballot drop box that was not locked. Republican Party Chair Laura Cox said in the news release, ““I am outraged at the complete negligence shown by the Lansing City Clerk’s office and Jocelyn Benson. This is evidence that our election system has potentially been compromised.”
Cox added, “I am calling on Secretary Benson to launch a full investigation into this incident, to determine if any ballots were stolen or tampered with, and to ensure this never happens again. I stand with President Trump in his fight for the free, fair election Michiganders, and all Americans, deserve.”
One video shows the person recording open a door on the back of the drop box and say, “there are ballots.” Only one letter can be seen in the video.
Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope said in a Facebook video the drop box videos were recorded before absentee ballots were issued to voters adding, “The item in that video is clearly not a ballot. And in fact the video was taken before voters got their ballots in the mail.”
The second video shows an election worker repeatedly trying to latch the drop box but it won’t lock. Republicans say that was yesterday. But the clerk says it was before any ballots were dropped off by voters. Swope said on the Facebook video, “Voters did not have ballots in their hands. We did send our sworn election official out to check all of those drop boxes on Saturday the first day the ballots were available and made sure they were all safe and secure.”
Swope said at a news conference the person who recorded the video should have reported the problem not try to make it more than it is saying, “I think it’s disingenuous to be spreading this.”
A spokesman for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a news release, “By sharing blatantly false statements in the press release, they are irresponsibly spreading misinformation likely intended to suppress voting among Michigan citizens. We have referred this matter to the Attorney General for investigation as election misinformation.”
We asked Republicans for an interview. We were told after the replies from the state and the clerk, they would be talking with their attorneys.
Wednesday afternoon, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Lara Cox released the below statement:
"The video, filmed on September 25, and distributed today by the Michigan Republican Party, showed an unlocked ballot drop box. The video was initially posted to Facebook by a concerned citizen on September 25. This date is after communities were authorized to send absentee ballots by the Secretary of State’s office and well after the local clerk stated that the boxes could be used to drop off absent voter/mail-in ballot applications. The video exposed an envelope in the unlocked drop box that could have possibly been a ballot based on the video's date of filming. Upon further review, it appears that the envelope in the unlocked box may not have been an absentee ballot. Lansing election officials told voters as early as September 18 that dropboxes were available to accept AV ballots, absentee voting applications, and voter registration forms. Lansing voters were given the impression that dropboxes were a secure place where their documents would be safeguarded. The video released shows that the box was, in fact, unlocked.
We are hearing from a number of clerks around the state that they were given dropboxes that are not suited to protect the integrity of the ballot. Clerks are concerned that there is an unsecure opening that jeopardizes the security of the contents of the dropbox. This needs to be investigated.
It’s amazing that when the Michigan Republican Party shares multiple videos demonstrating that a ballot box in Lansing has issues with its locking mechanism and calling for the Secretary of State to investigate, we find ourselves the subject of an investigation request. Clearly Jocelyn Benson is more concerned with playing partisan games than she is about election integrity."