Michigan Republicans plan 'a full hand count audit' of party's convention votes

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — The Michigan Republican Party is planning to audit the results of its own endorsement convention in April in what party leaders are describing as a "compromise," a move that points to the ongoing fight over whether the 2020 presidential election should be reviewed.

In an email sent Thursday to members of the Republican Party's state committee, Co-Chairwoman Meshawn Maddock said Chairman Ron Weiser was proposing "a full hand count audit after the upcoming convention, prior to the certification of the results."

The GOP's delegates will endorse candidates for secretary of state and attorney general at the April 23 convention. A 27-person committee will be created to develop processes for the audit, Maddock wrote in her email.

"I hope this stops the steady flow of inaccurate information that has been so prevalent," the co-chairwoman wrote.

Usually, the Republicans have used vote tabulators to tally results of contests at their state conventions. But some in the party have been pushing for counting the votes by hand after the 2020 election, in which former President Donald Trump made unproven claims of widespread fraud.

Barbara Plots of Quincy, Michigan, share her thoughts on a forensic audit of the 2020 presidential election: "Trump won, he should be our President!"

Someone created a website, unity4MRP.com, that says there should be "a transparent, verifiable, paper ballot hand count at state convention."

"Machine-based results will not be trusted," an audio recording on the website says.

But Maddock, who was part of the push to overturn the outcome of Michigan's 2020 election, defended the party's tabulators in her letter Thursday. She said in 15 years, the tabulators have never registered a variation compared to the results of in any recounts that occurred in close races.

"These are not machines administered by county or state election officials, and they are not connected to any server — in fact they have no external connection at all," Maddock wrote.

"The 27-person committee will be tasked with adopting the process for which the audit takes place, but I can assure every delegate the process will be highly transparent and fair," she explained.

Gus Portela, spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party, confirmed the plans on Friday. He said the GOP has created "a select committee that will verify and certify the results of the convention in April."

"Our party leadership believes in fighting for election integrity especially when endorsing the standard bearer for a majority of the offices up for election this fall," Portela said. "That’s why this process was put in place."

Trump and some of his supporters have maintained, without proof, that fraud cost him the 2020 election in Michigan. He lost the battleground state to Democrat Joe Biden by 154,000 votes or 3 percentage points.

There's a ongoing push for an audit of the results by some within the party, but the Republican-led Legislature has declined to pursue the idea. After a months long investigation, the state Senate Oversight Committee issued a report in June, finding "no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud" in Michigan's election.

Two vocal critics of the state's 2020 election, Matt DePerno and Kristina Karamo, are seeking nominations in contested races at the April endorsement convention. DePerno is running for attorney general. Karamo is running for secretary of state. Both individuals have been endorsed by Trump.

cmauger@detroitnews.com