BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) — Friday Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel announced the party has deployed teams into four states, including Michigan, to investigate irregularities. She spoke at several press conferences, including one in Bloomfield Hills.
The RNC says there are hundreds of allegations of fraud, but did not provide concrete evidence.
One allegation targeted a man who retired several years ago after 36 years as Michigan’s Elections Director under the leadership of both parties.
“The former Director of Elections from the State of Michigan Chris Thomas instructed every election worker to backdate ballots. We need to get to the bottom of that,” said Ronna McDaniel, RNC Chairwoman.
“This allegation is wrong and without foundation,” said Chris Thomas.
Thomas says workers had absentee ballots that were physically dated, but a clerical step was missed in the computer system. He says he told workers to fix the issue because a clerical error does not invalidate a vote.
“It is incredibly important that every vote does count. And as the election processes get more complex, more computerized, with more and more people that are hired short term to handle huge increases in the volume of mail ballots, the opportunity for errors increases,” said Thomas.
McDaniel and Michigan GOP Chair Laura Cox say it is one of hundreds of issues. 7 Action News asked for evidence and witnesses.
“We are asking for time to be able to collect the information,” said Laura Cox, Michigan GOP Chair.
Cox says that observers were not allowed in or to read ballots at TCF Center in Detroit when they should have been. She said when some left, they were not allowed back in, leading to a shortage of observers.
The City of Detroit’s Corporation Counsel Lawrence Garcia said some people were not allowed in after leaving from both parties - because it was realized they were over capacity and had more than 134 required.
A non- partisan observer at TCF says she never witnessed any point where there was an unfair number of or a shortage of partisan observers.
“I understand that while I was there, that a disruption occurred outside and individuals were making the claim they could not observe the process. I was in that room and there were hundreds and hundreds of people in there observing the process, not from just one party, but from both parties and from nonpartisan organizations,” said Sharon Dolente, a Voting Rights Strategist with the ACLU.
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson released the following statement in response to the Republican claims:
In response to the false claims made by Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, the Michigan Department of State issues the following statements of fact:
- Michigan’s elections were conducted fairly, effectively and transparently and are an accurate reflection of the will of Michigan voters.
- The erroneous reporting of unofficial results from Antrim county was a result of accidental error on the part of the Antrim County Clerk. The equipment and software did not malfunction and all ballots were properly tabulated. However, the clerk accidentally did not update the software used to collect voting machine data and report unofficial results.
- Like many counties in Michigan, Antrim County uses the Dominion Voting Systems election management system and voting machines (ballot tabulators.) The county receives programming support from Election Source. Tabulators are programmed to scan hand marked, paper ballots. When machines are finished scanning the ballots, the paper ballots are retained and a totals tape showing the number of votes for each candidate in each race is printed from the machine.
- In order to report unofficial results, county clerks use election management system software to combine the electronic totals from tabulators and submit a report of unofficial results. Because the clerk did not update software, even though the tabulators counted all the ballots correctly, those accurate results were not combined properly when the clerk reported unofficial results.
- The correct results always were and continue to be reflected on the tabulator totals tape and on the ballots themselves. Even if the error in the reported unofficial results had not been quickly noticed, it would have been identified during the county canvass. Boards of County Canvassers, which are composed of 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans, review the printed totals tape from each tabulator during the canvass to verify the reported vote totals are correct.
- The software did not cause a misallocation of votes; it was a result of user human error. Even when human error occurs, it is caught during county canvasses.
- It is also completely false that the county had to or will have to hand count all their ballots. The ballots were properly counted by the tabulators. The county had to review the printed tabulator results from each precinct, not each individual ballot.
- As with other unofficial results reporting errors, this was an honest mistake and did not affect any actual vote totals. Election clerks work extremely hard and do their work with integrity. They are human beings, and sometimes make mistakes. However, there are many checks and balances that ensure mistakes can be caught and corrected.
- As Detroit officials have stated, hundreds of challengers from both parties were inside their absent voter counting board all afternoon and evening. And even after some left, there were always challengers from both parties in the room. Dozens of reporters were in the room as well. Further, some windows were covered to stop those outside from filming the people and private information in the counting board, while other windows were left uncovered to ensure additional transparency.
- As was stated by Chris Thomas, who as a contractor for the Detroit City Clerk’s Office served as an advisor on the execution of this election and led challenger relations, and who is the former Michigan Director of Elections, who served under both republican and democrat Secretaries of State during his 40-year-tenure with the Bureau of Elections, no ballots were backdated. Rather, a clerical error was made when some ballot envelopes were received in Detroit satellite offices. Although employees stamped a date of receipt on the envelopes, an employee failed to complete the transaction for receiving the ballot by saving that date in the Qualified Voter File. Therefore, at the absent voter counting board, after discussion with Republican challengers who chose not to challenge the process, staff was instructed to enter that date stamped on the envelope ensuring that no voters were disenfranchised by the clerical error.