Antrim County audit shows 12-vote gain for Trump

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

 An audit of Antrim County election results Thursday gave President Donald Trump a net gain of 12 votes from the certified results in the northern Michigan county, a small gain in light of unsubstantiated allegations of mass fraud targeting the county's election software. 

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's total decreased by one vote, from 5,960 to 5,959, while Trump's increased 11 votes, from 9,748 to 9,759, according to preliminary results from the county's more than seven-hour, livestreamed audit. Biden won the state of Michigan by more than 154,000 votes on Nov. 3, according to certified results. 

Third-party presidential candidates in Antrim County were off by zero to one vote compared with certified results. 

"This is very typical of what we find in a hand-count of ballots," said Lori Bourbonais, with the Michigan Department of State. "It is normal to find one or two votes in a precinct that differ between a hand tally and machine count."

A student votes in the general election at a polling place at the University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced a zero-margin risk-limiting audit of the presidential election in Antrim County. The audit includes a hand-tally of every ballot and compares that tally with machine-tabulated results. 

Among those assisting with the audit were staff from the Michigan Bureau of Elections; Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy, a Republican; Rochester Hills Clerk Tina Barton, a Republican, and Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope, a Democrat. 

The 12-vote change amounts to about a .07% shift from certified results, Benson said in a social media post Thursday.

"The #AntrimAudit confirmed the truth & affirmed the facts: Dominion’s voting machines accurately tabulated votes cast for President. Now it’s time for the disinformation campaigns to end, and for all leaders to unequivocally affirm the Nov election was secure, accurate & fair," Benson wrote.

The reliably Republican county has been the center of controversy in the weeks since the election after initial results posted in the early morning hours of Nov. 4 showed Biden ahead of Trump by thousands of votes. Election officials later determined a clerk's failure to properly update software had resulted in transposed results and Trump actually won the county by more than 3,700 votes. 

But the error triggered a series of unproven fraud allegations regarding Dominion Voting Systems, which Antrim County and 47 other Michigan counties use in elections.

When a resident sued the county over the results, an Antrim County judge allowed a review of the county's equipment by Allied Security Operations Group, which has previously made false claims about Michigan's turnout and tallying process. 

Allied Securities Operations Group claims in a report that Dominion "is intentionally and purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results" and had an "error rate" of 68%. It was unclear how the group reached its conclusions. 

Benson, Attorney General Dana Nessel, Michigan Elections Director Jonathan Brater, Dominion and the Antrim county clerk rejected the report's findings.

Christopher Krebs, the first director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, told a U.S. Senate committee that Allied Securities Operations Group misinterpreted what it saw in the computer coding and used it to "spin" allegations that voting machines couldn't be trusted. 

He said the system didn't report errors in 68% of votes; instead, 68% of the election management system's logs had some sort of error alert rate. 

"I'm seeing these reports that are factually inaccurate continue to be promoted. That's what rumor control is all about. That's what I'm continuing to do today, based on my experience and understanding and how the systems work," Krebs said. "We have to stop this. It's undermining confidence in democracy."

Likewise, independent elections expert Ryan Macias submitted a report Wednesday to the U.S. Senate Homeland Securities and Governmental Affairs Committee that concluded the majority of ASOG's findings in Antrim County were "false and misleading" because the group lacked expertise in election technology. 

Macias, the owner of election technology and cybersecurity group RSM Election Solutions, is the former acting director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Voting System Testing and Certification Program. In that role, Macias managed testing campaigns for Dominion Voting Systems and Democracy Suite 5.5 Voting System used in Michigan. 

Macias argued ASOG lacked knowledge of Antrim County's voting system, at times referring in its report to problems with software the county does not have. 

"The implied voter fraud is based off a description of software Antrim County does

not own, for versions of the software that are not compatible with the version of the voting system Antrim County owns and would require hardware Antrim County does not have," Macias said. 

Dominion Voting Systems said in a statement this week that there were no software glitches in the county or anywhere else. The problems there were "isolated human errors not involving Dominion."

Guy has said Biden appeared to be winning in early, unofficial county results because of a problem that developed when she attempted to update Election Source software on isolated tabulators. Because the update was not applied to all tabulators, results were transposed as they were pulled from the tabulators into the county's main voting software. 

The problem was immediately corrected and would have been caught in later canvassing if it wasn't brought to the attention of the county sooner.

Staff writer Craig Mauger contributed.