Fact check: Michigan did not authorize a full forensic audit of 2020 election

The claim: Michigan authorized a full forensic audit 

Michigan already completed the most comprehensive series of post-election audits in the state’s history, confirming the 2020 presidential election results. But some social media posts assert the state isn’t done scrutinizing those results.

The claim comes amid the Arizona Republican Senate’s audit of the 2020 election results in the state’s most populous county, where an unofficial hand recount of 2.1 million ballots is taking place. 

Post-election audits in Arizona and Michigan turned up zero evidence of systemic voter fraud and confirmed the Election Day results, but falsehoods surrounding vote results in the battleground states have persisted on social media.

“BREAKING: Michigan has authorized a full forensic audit of the 2020 Presidential Election,” reads a screen grab of a tweet shared to Facebook on May 10.

Similar versions of the claim have been shared widely on Instagram and Facebook. One user linked the purported forensic audit to an ongoing election lawsuit in Antrim County, Michigan.

“After a preliminary audit of Dominion machines in Antrim County turned up MAJOR fraud Michigan now wants a full forensic audit,” reads a May 9 Facebook post with over 500 shares.

The claim also gained traction on Twitter in a May 10 post by former NHL player Dustin Penner with over 14,000 likes and 3,400 retweets.

USA TODAY reached out to Penner and the social media users for comment. 

All of these claims are wrong.

No forensic audit has been ordered in Michigan. The final outcome of the lawsuit centered in Antrim County will have no effect on the state’s election results. 

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No new audits planned in Michigan

Tracy Wimmer, a spokesperson for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office, told USA TODAY the claim is false and “no new audits are planned.” 

“We conducted more than 250 (audits) around the state, and those were completed months ago, and all affirmed the integrity and accuracy of the election,” she said in an email, pointing to a March 2 press release from Benson. 

Benson’s statement says the state’s audits were conducted by about 1,300 Republican, Democratic and nonpartisan clerks across the state. 

Additionally, election officials conducted a statewide audit exercise by hand-counting votes cast for president on more than 18,000 randomly selected ballots, which “affirmed the outcome of the presidential election as previously determined by tabulation machines.”

While Michigan has not authorized any new election audit, the topic was brought up during an Anterim County commission meeting on May 6. 

Commissioner Dawn LaVanway motioned to conduct a forensic audit of the county’s 2020 election results, but the item was tabled to a June meeting, according to the Traverse County Record-Eagle. 

Fact check:Census voting data isn’t proof of fraud in 2020 election

Antrim County lawsuit

Claims of a Michigan forensic audit appeared online around the same time former President Donald Trump baselessly claimed on May 10 that a “major Michigan Election Fraud case” would prove that “votes were intentionally switched” from him to Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

It is unclear what case Trump was referencing, but there is a lingering lawsuit in Antrim County, where Trump received 9,759 votes to Biden’s 5,959. Michigan’s elections board voted to certify Biden’s victory in the state in November.

Antrim County resident William Bailey filed a lawsuit Nov. 23 against the county, in which he challenged the integrity of election equipment and requested to conduct his own audit.

As a result, 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer ordered “forensic imaging” of 22 Dominion tabulators and other software used in the election by Antrim County. 

Bailey’s lawsuit relies heavily on a human error by Republican Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy on election night. Because of the mistake, initial, unofficial results from the Republican-leaning county briefly showed Biden in the lead. 

Guy’s error was acknowledged and corrected before state results were finalized. A December 2020 hand audit of the county’s ballots showed only “slight differences,” which are “typically seen in hand recounts,” per a statement from Benson’s office. 

Fact check:Dominion attorneys did not try to stop Arizona ballot audit

Trump’s attorneys and supporters seized on the reporting error to promote false claims about Dominion, which supplies voting software to Antrim and 65 other counties in Michigan. Accusations that the company manipulated vote tallies have been proven false, however.

Findings from a 23-page report filed in support of Bailey’s lawsuit were disputed by the Michigan Department of State, Dominion, Benson and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. 

The lawsuit is ongoing and Elsenheimer is expected to make a decision on dismissing the case on May 18.

Fact check: Judge did not rule Dominion Voting Systems machines engineered to yield fraud

Our rating: False 

The claim that Michigan authorized a full forensic audit of the 2020 presidential election is FALSE, based on our research. The Michigan Secretary of State’s office confirmed no new audits are planned, and 250 audits around the state found results to be accurate.  The claim stems from an Antrim County lawsuit, which includes false information regarding a human error and Dominion voting machines.

Our fact-check sources: 

  • Michigan Secretary of State spokeswoman Tracy Wimmer, May 12, email correspondence
  • The Office of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, March 2, More than 250 audits confirm accuracy and integrity of Michigan’s election 
  • Record-Eagle, May 9, Antrim County election lawsuit is one of the last in the nation
  • From the Desk of Donald J. Trump, May 10, post
  • The Detroit News, Dec. 17, 2020, Antrim County audit shows 12-vote gain for Trump
  • USA TODAY, Nov. 23, 2020, Michigan board votes to certify election results despite GOP calls to delay
  • Detroit Free Press, Dec. 14, 2020, State, company officials dispute report claiming Antrim County tabulators bungled results
  • 9 & 10 News, Nov. 6, 2020, Antrim County Election Results Corrected After Issue Skewed Initial Results
  • Senate Oversight Committee, Nov. 19, 2020, Antrim County Election Timeline
  • The Office of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Dec. 17, 2020, Hand audit of all Presidential Election votes in Antrim County confirms previously certified results, voting machines were accurate
  • Detroit Free Press, Dec. 6, 2020, Trump attorney: ‘Our team’ examining Antrim voting equipment after judge issued order
  • Dominion Voting, May 13, Dominion in Michigan
  • USA TODAY, Nov. 14, 2020, Fact check: Dominion voting machines didn’t delete votes from Trump, switch them to Biden
  • Allied Security Operations Group, Dec. 13, 2020, Antrim Michigan Forensics Report
  • Michigan.gov, Dec. 8, 2020, Misinformation campaign concerning Antrim County expected to continue
  • Michigan.gov, Dec. 14, 2020, AG, SOS: Plaintiff’s Report in Antrim County Election Lawsuit Demonstrates Lack of Credible Evidence in Widespread Fraud or Wrongdoing
  • Dominion Voting, April 29, ABOUT THE DEBUNKED Antrim County ‘FORENSIC AUDIT’ REPORT
  • Traverse City Record-Eagle, May 11, Judge to mull decision on Antrim election case

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