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Michigan Senate leader Shirkey 'watching carefully' Arizona's election audit

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said Wednesday he's been "watching carefully" an effort to audit the election in Arizona's largest county but he didn't commit on whether he supports something similar in his state.

On Thursday, supporters of former President Donald Trump are expected to gather outside the Capitol and submit to Shirkey thousands of affidavits requesting a "complete audit of the statewide election results" in Michigan.

Trump lost the state to Democrat Joe Biden by 154,000 votes, or 3 percentage points. Court rulings, dozens of past audits by election officials and bipartisan boards of canvassers have all backed the outcome despite continued unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey.

Shirkey said the push for an audit in Michigan is an "indication of the continued concern” about the integrity of the election. However, the Senate leader added that he believes because of the work of the Senate Oversight Committee, "many of those concerns will be put to bed."

“People are passionate about it," Shirkey said of the audit idea. "And so we’ve got to let them have their opportunity to voice their concern."

Senate Oversight Chairman Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, is expected to release a report on the 2020 election in the coming days. McBroom's committee has been studying the vote since November.

Shirkey made his comments after the Senate voted in favor of three proposals Wednesday that would impose new voter identification requirements. They are the first to pass the full Senate of the 39-bill package Republicans introduced in March to overhaul the state's voting laws.

Asked if he's planning to sign off an election audit in Michigan, Shirkey told reporters, "I’m planning on watching carefully what occurs and what comes out of the Arizona process. ... We’ll see where that might lead."

He continued, "I believe what we’ve done in our oversight process is equal (to) or more robust than what they’ve been doing.”

Trump backers have been encouraging audits in battleground states in recent months after the GOP-controlled Arizona Senate orchestrated one in Maricopa County. The Arizona Senate issued subpoenas for ballots and voting machines, according to the Associated Press.

Shirkey suggested Wednesday that Michigan officials have been "in regular contact" with people in Arizona.

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, slammed Republican lawmakers for "lying to people" about the 2020 election on Wednesday. He also criticized the audit in Arizona.

"If he hasn't figured out that's a sham ... then that's a bigger problem," Ananich said of Shirkey.

Organizers of the audit-focused event planned for Lansing on Thursday are describing it as a "prayer rally." It is scheduled to take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Ananich said he plans to have limited staff at the Capitol as the event occurs.

County clerks already performed procedural audits in at least 200 randomly selected precincts across the state. The reviews included hand counts of all votes cast in the precincts in the U.S. Senate race.

The Michigan Bureau of Elections and local election officials also examined absentee counting boards in four large municipalities, including Detroit, and conducted a risk-limiting audit exercise. In it, more than 18,000 ballots from across the state were randomly selected to be tallied. In the sample of ballots reviewed, Biden received 50% and Trump received 48%, nearly mirroring the official numbers that found Biden won 51%-48%.

cmauger@detroitnews.com