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Internal emails reveal Antrim Co. response to voting problem that fueled conspiracies

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Antrim County has inspired nationwide conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 presidential election, but internal emails from the northern Michigan county clerk's office show election officials quickly identified the human errors that led to problems with initial results.

For subscribers: How mistakes in a rural Michigan county led to big election disinformation

A sign supporting Donald Trump hangs from a home in downtown Bellaire, Michigan, months after the election was completed. Antrim County went for Democrat Joe Biden in preliminary results, but errors were quickly discovered and President Donald Trump prevailed in the GOP stronghold.

There wasn't a mysterious glitch with the Dominion Voting Systems election technology, as some lawyers and advocates have suggested without providing clear evidence. Instead, late changes to the ballot and the lack of a thorough rechecking of the machinery led to the discrepancies.

Antrim County election officials realized something went wrong within five hours of posting the unofficial results showing that Democrat Joe Biden won the Republican county stronghold, according to a Detroit News review of hundreds of emails from within the Antrim County Clerk's Office. 

They took responsibility for the mistakes that led to the problems, worked to share information about what had happened but were overpowered by a wave of false allegations.

The 2020 election in Antrim County is defined by a handful of errors that turned into fuel for frustrated supporters of President Donald Trump, who handily won Antrim County when the official results were posted three days later but who lost Michigan by 154,000 votes.

Instead of emphasizing what happened, which was clear to local election officials on Nov. 4, high-ranking Republicans spent weeks pushing to investigate the situation, which fanned the fires of conspiracy.

Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy has received threats. As a result of the continuing controversy and Republican conspiracy theories, the one-time Trump voter said she is considering never voting for a Republican candidate again.

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