LANSING, Mich. — When more than a thousand pro-Trump activists surrounded Michigan’s Capitol Tuesday demanding an audit of a near year-old election, they also left a message.
“The optics we want to get out here today is we are not going away, we have a constitutional right to a real audit of our election and we are going to get it,” says former GOP State Senator Pat Colbeck, one of the state’s most prominent voices in pushing unsubstantiated claims about the election.
To “get it,” activists are using grassroots tactics, like a petition drive; planning to collect signatures to try and force the GOP-led legislature’s hand.
“[Lawmakers] are not answering to the people. It’s going to be up to the people to go off and get things back in line and take matters into our own hands and go off conducting the canvassing and doing all the hard work that we pay these guys to go off and do,” Colbeck added.
Election Integrity Fund, the group who hosted Tuesday’s rally is now recruiting volunteers to go door-to-door in Michigan with hopes of finding "evidence" of voter fraud. This despite 250 state audits and a GOP-led state Senate investigation, which found no signs of widespread or systematic fraud in last year’s election.
“There's no way to go off and determine whether or not those are cast by real voters or not," Colbeck said of state audits. "All we can do is similar to what they did out in Arizona, where Liz [Harris] did her thing regarding the canvassing."
Harris, who spoke in Lansing Tuesday, organized similar door-to-door private canvassing efforts in Arizona to verify registered voter rolls, by going to the address of a registered voter and seeing if they still live there.
Colbeck says that same effort is already underway in Michigan including in Muskegon. "7 out of the 10 people contacted [in Muskegon had voting anomalies," Colbeck claimed on stage Tuesday.
The practice is concerning to those who oversee elections in our state, with some calling it a form of voter intimidation.
“They can dress it up however they want but this is straight up voter intimidation and voter harassment,” says Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum.
Byrum, a former Democratic state lawmaker, says the effort is "attacking the integrity of our elections," but also believes it will come up with inaccurate findings.
“November 2020 was nearly a year ago. So those voters who lived at 123 East Main Street, may very well have moved, we have a very transient population,” Byrum said. “I know from knocking doors as a candidate years ago, that people move and they move often, just because someone's not at the house that they were at in 2020 when they voted, doesn't mean they weren't a proper voter at that time. So this is very concerning.”
In Michigan, if you vote is public information, but how you vote is not.
“My concern is that people are going to be knocking on these doors and the voters are going to think that I prompted this and I did not. I am adamantly opposed to this or any type of voter intimidation, voter harassment,” Byrum said.
"If someone comes to your door asking you to vote, be nice to them, they are encouraging voter participation. If someone comes to your door asking you who you voted for, slam the door in their face
or don't answer it and report it to the authorities. Let me know, let your local clerk know, because this is not how our democracy looks,” she added.