ANTRIM COUNTY, Mich. – Michigan officials conducted a “risk-limiting” audit of presidential election ballots cast in Antrim County, where a clerical error inspired baseless conspiracies of voter fraud.
On the night of the election, one of Michigan’s most reliably-Republican counties had some puzzling results: Democrat Joe Biden was way ahead of President Donald Trump in Antrim County.
At that time, Antrim County clerk Sheryl Guy said the results were incorrect, as the vote totals counted by election software did not match the printed count. The mistake was caught almost immediately, and officials declared that it was a human error: One of the clerk’s staff members reportedly did not update drives in some of the machines, which caused the error.
Antrim County uses software from Dominion Voting Systems, which has a target for conspiracy theories about election fraud this year. Dominion’s CEO appeared in front of the Michigan Legislature this week and testified under oath that the company doesn’t believe in voter fraud conspiracies surrounding their software.
“Unfortunately, Dominion has recently been thrust into the national spotlight as part of a dangerous and reckless disinformation campaign aimed at sowing doubt and confusion over the 2020 presidential election,” said CEO John Poulos on Tuesday.
Even though the state’s election results have been certified for weeks, Michigan officials still chose to audit Antrim County’s votes on Dec. 17.
“While we know the machine tabulators functioned properly in Antrim, we are conducting this audit to assure the public of what countless officials from both parties at the federal, state and local levels have already confirmed -- that this was the most secure election in our nation’s history and the certified results are an accurate reflection of the will of the voters,” said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “It is time for Michigan and the nation to once and for all dismiss the meritless disinformation campaign that seeks to undermine the integrity of our election and move forward in support of our collective democracy.”
The Michigan Bureau of Elections, Antrim County Clerk’s Office and a bipartisan team of clerks began hand counting the county’s ballots at 9 a.m. on Thursday. Before 6 p.m. the same day, Benson announced the results of the audit -- and the count remained largely unchanged.
As a result of the vote audit, Biden lost 1 vote and Trump gained 11 additional votes in Antrim County. The previously-certified votes favored Trump with 9,748 votes over Biden’s 5,960 -- shifting to 9,759 votes for Trump and 5,959 for Biden Thursday after the county’s recount.
“Today’s full audit in Antrim County confirmed the truth and affirmed the facts: Dominion’s voting machines accurately tabulated the votes cast for president in Antrim County,” Benson said on Dec. 17. “It is time for the disinformation campaigns to stop, and for elected and other leaders on both sides of the aisle to unequivocally affirm that the election was secure and accurate.”
Officials said Thursday that the small differences in vote counts identified in the audit are often seen in hand recounts, since human counters sometimes make mistakes when reviewing ballots. Still, because the county’s vote totals barely moved, officials say Antrim County’s reporting error “was not related to tabulation, as has been falsely claimed without evidence.”
The Michigan Bureau of Elections will reportedly conduct a statewide risk-limiting audit of ballots cast in the 2020 election. Officials say a random sample of ballots will be drawn from across the state, and they are expected to reaffirm the state’s certified election results.
On Monday, Michigan electors gathered to fulfill their constitutional duty to elect the winner of the popular vote for the office of U.S. president and vice president, unanimously casting the state’s 16 Electoral College votes for Biden for president, and Kamala Harris for vice president.