Michigan launches statewide audit of 18,000 randomly selected ballots

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
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Lansing — The state of Michigan began Monday a two-week risk-limiting audit with a process that determined the more than 18,000 randomly drawn ballots to be reviewed from across the state. 

On Monday, Michigan's Department of State live-streamed the rolling of 20, 10-sided dice used to generate numbers that will be plugged into an auditing software to select ballots from any of Michigan's more than 1,500 election jurisdictions. 

Clerks will use the next two weeks to review the more than 18,000 ballots corresponding to the numbers that were generated by the software. Republican and Democratic clerks across the state will hand-review the paper ballots to determine whether they match the machine-tabulated results, the department said in a press release.

Ballots from more than half of Michigan's election jurisdictions are expected to be drawn, the most that have ever participated in similar audits across the country.

"This year more than ever, with the high volume of misinformation spread about what was an incredibly safe, secure and accurate election, conducting this bipartisan process openly and transparently is an important step in ensuring Michigan voters understand the truth about the security and integrity of our election system," Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a Monday statement. 

Eaton County Clerk Diana Bosworth rolls a dice used to help determine 18,000 randomly selected ballots that will be reviewed in a statewide risk-limiting audit.

Democratic President-elect Joe Biden won the state of Michigan by more than 154,000 votes over Republican President Donald Trump, but the more than two months since the election have been marked by unproven allegations of election fraud, protests, committee inquiries and the Wednesday storming of the U.S. Capitol. 

Besides the statewide risk-limiting audit, more than 200 procedural audits have been or continue to be conducted throughout the state, with all completed reviews confirming "the integrity and accuracy of local elections," Benson's office said.

In Antrim County, a hand tally of every ballot compared with machine tabulated results showed a net gain of 12 votes for Trump, slightly increasing the president's lead over Biden so that the final results stood at 9,759 to 5,959. 

The zero-margin, risk-limiting audit of the election came after Antrim County's clerk failed to update some election software, resulting in a lead for Biden in unofficial results in the Republican-held county. The county quickly took the numbers down and reposted the correct vote count later. 

But the error sparked a barrage of unsubstantiated allegations of mass fraud targeting the county's election software. 

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

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