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GOP-led House, Senate to convene inquiry into Michigan vote count

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Michigan's Republican legislative leaders plan to convene oversight committees so they can begin an inquiry into the state's election system starting Saturday as President Donald Trump, the Republican National Committee and the Michigan Republican Party questioned the state's process. 

The committees will be meeting for "accountability" in "the election and counting procedures in our state for this election and future ones," House Speaker Lee Chatfield of Levering wrote Friday on Twitter. 

"This isn’t to change results," Chatfield said. "America needs certainty and unity. This will help."

Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, addressed the crowd before the Oct. 17, 2020 campaign rally for President Donald Trump at Muskegon County Airport in Muskegon. Chatfield and the Senate majority leader are holding oversight committee hearings into Tuesday's election.

Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, said the "turmoil" surrounding the election underscores the need for a "fair and honest result."

“Pouring gas on every potential fear and spreading doubt about the integrity of the system is not the answer, nor is ignoring troubling reports and dismissing out of hand anecdotal evidence that problems may exist," said McBroom, chairman for the Senate Oversight Committee.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden won Michigan 51%-48%, or by a margin of about 146,000 votes, in unofficial results with all precincts reporting. But Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel vowed Friday that the fight over the presidential election "is not over" and urged patience as "irregularities" in Tuesday's election are examined. 

Chatfield added: "Nothing is more important than integrity in our election system. Every single legal vote needs to be counted. Because this is America and that’s what we do! And let me be very clear: whoever gets the most votes will win Michigan! Period. End of story. Then we move on."

For the past several months, clerks have urged the Legislature to make changes that would allow for the speedier tabulation of absentee results. 

The Legislature passed laws that included allowances for the pre-processing of absentee ballots for a 10-hour period ahead of Election Day, changes to protocols for signature mismatches on absentee ballots and allowances for shifts of workers on absentee voter counting boards.

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, blasted the decision as a "sad development" that will "feed the chaos on which this president thrives."

“President Trump won the election by 10,000 votes in 2016 and Democrats took it like adults," Ananich said. "This time, Vice President Biden won by nearly 15 times Trump’s margin, but Republicans are choosing to side with conspiracy theorists and abuse the power of the Legislature in attempt to soothe their bruised egos."

Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, said the Tuesday election's record turnout and the resulting time it took to process more absentee ballots directly resulted from the passage of Proposal 3 in 2018, which guaranteed certain changes including no-reason absentee voting. 

"We don't need to hold legislative hearings just for some grandstand and sow doubt in our democratic process," Moss said. "Instead, we need to respect and uphold the will of the people of Michigan."

eleblanc@detroitnews.com