By Patrick Colbeck
The 2020 election results have been certified certified by local, state and federal authorities. Certification of election results is only supposed to occur after the election results have been canvassed for each jurisdiction. The “canvassing” process is our first line of defense against election fraud. This “canvassing” is completed by what is referred to as a Board of Canvassers for each jurisdiction.
So, what exactly does the process of “canvassing” entail?
Canvassing is a process which ensures that the proper execution of election processes has been completed via examination of election records. In practical terms, the process of canvassing is simply the election version of what accountants would call an audit except that it is conducted by the Board of Canvassers.
There is significant variation as to the degree of discipline applied to these canvassing examinations. In practice, the canvas examination is focused primarily on the act of verifying that the number of votes cast in a precinct per the poll book equals the number of ballots. In order to truly ensure that a proper execution of election processes has been completed, however, a canvass would need to ensure that the integrity of each link in the election record chain of custody specific to that jurisdiction has been verified.
The lack of definition around what is specifically meant by “canvassing” invites the application of significant political pressure to canvassers to certify the vote. After all, voters and candidates alike are always anxious to learn the results of the election. They want the results as soon as possible. This translates to “rubber stamp” certification votes which do not have election integrity as their number one priority.
To make matters worse, once an election has been “certified” there is significant political pressure applied to accept the results and “just move on”. If the election processes were indeed conducted in a manner which maintained the chain of custody, accepting the results makes perfect sense. If, however, there is significant evidence of breakage in the links involved with the election chain of custody, such political pressures leave little room for courts to pursue allegations of fraud prior to a candidate taking office. In other words, canvassing which lacks a rigorous examination of the election chain of custody can be used to facilitate the theft of an election from voters.
See our primer on the 2020 Election Chain of Custody if you would like to learn more about this important topic.
Our second line of defense against election fraud is to conduct an audit. In Michigan, our Constitution guarantees our citizens the right to an election audit.
(h) The right to have the results of statewide elections audited, in such a manner as prescribed by law, to ensure the accuracy and integrity of elections.Michigan Constitution, Article II Section 4
The only statutory requirements pertinent to the conduct of an audit are found in MCL 168.31a.
(2) The secretary of state shall prescribe the procedures for election audits that include reviewing the documents, ballots, and procedures used during an election as required in section 4 of article II of the state constitution of 1963. The secretary of state and county clerks shall conduct election audits, including statewide election audits, as set forth in the prescribed procedures. The secretary of state shall train and certify county clerks and their staffs for the purpose of conducting election audits of precincts randomly selected by the secretary of state in their counties. An election audit must include an audit of the results of at least 1 race in each precinct selected for an audit. A statewide election audit must include an audit of the results of at least 1 statewide race or statewide ballot question in a precinct selected for an audit. An audit conducted under this section is not a recount and does not change any certified election results. The secretary of state shall supervise each county clerk in the performance of election audits conducted under this section.
In addition to a lack of any specificity as to chain of custody examination, Michigan statute stipulates that audits are conducted “Post-Election”. In other words, under Michigan law, audits, unless ordered by a court, are not a tool for evaluating election integrity prior to certifying election results beyond the poorly defined and politically influenced canvassing process. In most cases, we are limited to post-election audits to get to the bottom of any election fraud which may have occurred in a previous election.
An audit of election chain of custody is an important tool, but it needs to be of sufficient quality to be able to discern whether or not election fraud has occurred.
The findings and corrective actions generated from a real audit not only highlight any improprieties in previous elections which may involve criminal wrongdoing, they serve as the basis for true reforms for future elections.
So, pre or post-election, would Michigan audit guidelines be sufficient to identify election fraud? Let’s look at specific examples of election fraud in Michigan for which there are signed affidavits from certified Poll Challengers.
Does the state Audit Checklist encourage sufficient rigor for an auditor to be able to identify any of the fraud which was observed in the 2020 election?
Summary of Michigan election fraud related to chain of custody.
|Fraud Identified||Link Broken (i.e. Record)||Method of Discovery||Covered by Official Audit Guidelines?|
|616,648 ineligible voters eligible to vote||QVF||Review QVF transaction log (who, when, how, where). Review steps taken by the Secretary of State to reconcile QVF with data in other states. Review procedures used by Secretary of State to verify address of voter in QVF. Review procedures used by clerk to verify birthdate of voter.||No|
|At least 210 dead voters||Poll Book||Review Electronic Poll Book transaction log (QVF updates). Review Poll Book entries (who approved ballots for dead voters, what ID was shown).||No*|
|At least 317 voters cast votes in multiple states||Poll Book||Review Electronic Poll Book transaction log (QVF updates). Review Poll Book entries (who approved ballots for voters casting votes in multiple states, what ID was shown).||No*|
|At least 13,248 absentee or early voters were not residents of Michigan when they voted||Poll Book||Review Electronic Poll Book transaction log (QVF updates). Review Poll Book entries (who approved ballots for non-residents, what ID was shown). Review steps taken by the Secretary of State to reconcile QVF with data in other states.||No*|
|2,474 voters had invalid addresses||Poll Book||Review Electronic Poll Book transaction log (QVF updates). Review Poll Book entries (who approved ballots for dead voters, what ID was shown). Review procedures used by Secretary of State to verify address of voter in QVF.||No*|
|Fake birthdays entered||Poll Book||Review Electronic Poll Book transaction log (QVF updates). Review Poll Book entries (who approved ballots of voters with fake birthdays, what ID was shown). Review procedures used by clerk to verify birthdate of voter.||No*|
|Multiple versions per precinct||Poll Book||Review Electronic Poll Book transaction log (QVF updates). Review Paper Poll Books sealed with precinct records. Reconcile various versions of Poll Books with each other and highlight discrepancies.||No|
|Double voting occurred||Poll Book||Compare voter entries in Poll Books used at “in person” polling locations with those used in Absentee Voter Counting Boards.||No|
|Unsupervised ballot duplication||Ballot||Review surveillance video. Review affidavits of party affiliation for poll workers. Reconcile poll worker affidavits with assigned precincts. Reconcile number of poll challengers for each party with number of precincts.||No|
|Suspicious drops of tens of thousands of ballots||Ballot||Review surveillance videos and ballot delivery vehicle logs to determine if ballots arrived in official election bureau vehicles, scan each paper ballot to identify fraudulent ballots, review poll book entries by clerks. Correlate poll book entries with ballot transfers to counting boards, correlate counting board transfers to surveillance video observations. Verify that ballots were sealed in approved containers.||No|
|At least 289,866 illegal votes cast||Vote Tally||Review electronic transaction logs (who, when, where) associated with vote tally transmittals for tabulators, adjudicators and EMS workstations as well as any peripherals such as USB Flash Drives or Compact Flash Drives. Attempt to correlate vote tally data transmittals with observed vote tally updates. Review audit trail and trace poll book entries regarding ballot batch handoffs to tabulators to tabulator vote tallies. Reconcile tabulator scanning capacity with the number of ballots reported to have been counted between updates.||No**|
|Evidence of internet connectivity||Vote Tally||Review election equipment specifications to determine if equipment is able to connect to the internet. Review Election System configuration reviewed by board of elections for each precinct prior to the election. Review pre-election Poll Inspector equipment certifications. Review event logs for all electronic devices used in support of election for indication of internet traffic.||No**|
|Evidence of fractional vote tallies||Vote Tally||Review electronic tabulating system equipment configuration and review pre-election Poll Inspector equipment certifications. Determine if any software modules which would enable fractional voting have been enabled. Review raw data stream (website formatting truncates fractions to whole numbers) for vote tally data transfers to/from tabulation equipment, adjudicator equipment, Election Management System equipment, and third party data aggregators (e.g. Edison Research).||No**|
|Dominion election system featured a 68% error rate resulting in suspicious adjudication rate||Vote Tally||Review pre-election Poll Inspector equipment certifications. Inspect the voting system equipment to see if it was defective. Review all ballots in precincts with high error rates which were rejected by voting system thereby requiring adjudication. Review audit trail to determine how many ballots were adjudicated. Conduct manual review of ballots in precincts. Reconcile manual vote tallies with adjudicated vote tallies.||No**|
|Data anomalies indicate fraud||Vote Tally||Apply same data anomaly analysis techniques (e.g. Benford’s law) used in detecting financial fraud to election fraud.||No|
So, out of the 15 examples of breakages in the election chain of custody, ZERO of them have a reasonable chance of being addressed, much less discovered, by adherence to the audit guidelines currently in place. ZERO. Fake audits are not the remedy for fake elections.
Our election system is broken.
A true audit with sufficient rigor to address the breaks in the links of the election chain of custody would go a long way towards repairing our election system. If our legislators and Governors were truly interested in repairing our election system, they could demonstrate their sincerity by requiring audits to have sufficient rigor to include the means of discovery cited above. Failure to do so indicates that they are simply “going through the motions”.