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Explore Michigan's fact-checking website regarding the 2020 election

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Posted at 11:15 AM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-05 11:15:25-05

(WXYZ) — The Michigan Department of State has created a fact-checking website section to provide facts and information regarding the 2020 election.

From details about absentee ballots to how the list of Michigan's registered voters are maintained to election security, the section goes into detail on a variety of election topics.

One part of the site also explains false claims of election fraud:

Claims of "wrongdoing" in Detroit and elsewhere in Michigan have been explained, typically as standard election procedureNumerous claims of wrongdoing or “irregularities” have been made about Detroit’s election and absentee counting board. However, these have all been answered by election officials, including Chris Thomas, the former Michigan Bureau of Elections director, who oversaw state elections for decades under both Republican and Democratic secretaries of state, and served as a senior advisor to the Detroit clerk’s office ahead of and during the 2020 general election. Additionally, the claims have been rejected by multiple judges in the state. Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Kenny, originally appointed by Republican Governor John Engler, found many of the claims to be “incorrect and not credible.” More detailed explanations of false claims made about election administration in Detroit and elsewhere in Michigan are available here.

  • All absentee ballot envelopes that were received were stamped by clerks’ offices with the date they arrived. However, in some cases, this date was not entered into the computer tracking system. Therefore, when these ballots were encountered later, the dates that had been marked on their envelopes was entered into the computer system. In Michigan, ballots themselves are not stamped with dates, and postmarks are not recorded at all, as Michigan law does not allow ballots that arrive after 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted, regardless of postmark.
  • Absentee ballots were not scanned multiple times inappropriately in Detroit. This was only done if ballots could not be read by the tabulation machine. Had ballots been counted multiple times, the number of total ballots counted would be higher than the total number of voters who voted, but in Detroit slightly fewer ballots were counted than voters whose names were in pollbooks (due to common clerical errors, as explained below).
  • When there are more or fewer ballots than voters in the pollbook without explanation, the precinct is deemed “out of balance.” These clerical errors are common in precincts across the state and nation. In Detroit, at least 72% of precincts were in balance or explained in the general election of 2020, compared to just 42% in the general election of 2016. It is more common for precincts to be out of balance without explanation in counties with large populations, as clerks and bipartisan boards of canvassers have far more precincts to work through but the same amount of time to do so as smaller jurisdictions.
  • Although it can be difficult to recruit Republican challengers in Detroit – just as it is difficult to recruit Democratic challengers elsewhere in the state – there were always challengers from both parties in Detroit’s absentee ballot counting board. Further, some windows were covered to stop those outside from improperly filming the people and private information in the counting board, while other windows were left uncovered to ensure additional transparency.
  • No ballot tabulation machines were connected to the internet at Detroit’s counting board. The machines were networked locally to each other and the adjudication machines by ethernet cable, and so some people wrongly believed they were online. They were not.
  • By telling voters that they could vote straight ticket, Detroit election workers reminded voters of a convenience offered to Michigan voters. Workers should not suggest what party to vote straight ticket for, but can assist voters even if the voters have voluntarily told the workers who they want to vote for. In 2016, nearly 97% of Detroiters who voted cast ballots for Hillary Clinton. In 2020, 95% voted for President-elect Biden.
  • Michigan law does not require citizens to show photo identification to vote. If they don’t have ID they have the option to sign an affidavit stating they are not in possession of photo ID, and can then be given a ballot to vote. Michigan law states that the ballots provided to voters who sign such an affidavit are not provisional ballots and shall be counted like all other ballots.
  • When a voter is eligible to have their ballot counted but the voter’s name does not appear on the voter list (for example, if a voter returned their absent voter ballot after the absent voter ballot list in the pollbook was generated), the voter’s name is added to a supplemental list of voters in the pollbook. In some cases, election workers add a placeholder birthdate such as 1/1/1900 if the voter’s birthdate (which is not needed to count the ballot on Election Day) is not known. Some who viewed this process wrongly believed voters were being registered to vote with fake birth dates. This is not correct – the voters were not being registered (they were already registered), and the voter’s actual birthdate is known and kept by the election clerk in the voter file.
  • While Michigan law bars election workers and voters from wearing clothing or accessories that express support for a specific candidate or party in the election being conducted, the law allows them to wear items that show support for other groups and causes, and former candidates or officials no longer running for office, such as, Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, Barack Obama or Ronald Reagan.
  • If ballots are filled out in a way that tabulators cannot read them, state law requires that bipartisan teams adjudicate them to determine voter intent.
  • Voter turnout in Michigan increased by 8.7 percent in the general election of 2020 compared to 2016. All states saw turnout increase and 13 states had larger increases than Michigan.

To read the full fact checks section, click here.