by Bill Richardson and Patrice Johnson | April 11
This article, Part 2 of a series, examines the violations of law that resulted from favoritism shown to University of Michigan students over other demographic groups during the Nov. 8, 2022, election.
Last week, MFE and PIME released Part 1. DAY LATE: Ann Arbor, MI, counts 120 absentee ballots cast on Nov. 9 in Nov. 8 election documented that 600 U-M students registered and voted absentee after the Election Day deadline of 8:00 PM. Incredible as it sounds, 120 students voted absentee on November 9, yet their ballots were counted in the November 8 election—in blatant violation of Michigan Compiled Law 168.731(3).
Part 1 and Part 2 are adapted from sections of a soon-to-be-released report that will present the comprehensive results of four months’ research by investigative volunteers with Michigan Fair Elections (MFE) and Pure Integrity Michigan Elections (PIME).
If you were an elections clerk given the option to open two new satellite voter registration offices, who would you say has greater need of conveniently placed facilities – students or senior citizens? The obvious answer is seniors. Elder folks typically have more mobility challenges – both driving and walking – than spry college students, so seniors would benefit significantly more from convenient registration and voting locations. But the Ann Arbor City clerk and University of Michigan officials chose otherwise.
No doubt under pressure from so-called non-partisan “charities,” the clerk and university created two satellite elections offices in the heart of U-M’s North and Main campuses during the November 2022 election. The convenient option of walking to a nearby registration site was not offered to any other demographic group in the clerk’s jurisdiction.
Why the overt discrimination in favor of students at the expense of senior citizens or any other demographic group? What reasoning prompted the clerk and university to make voting easier for students but not easier for senior citizens, not easier for the poor, not easier for blue-collar workers or non-English speaking groups, or any other group within the clerk’s jurisdiction?
Numbers tell the tale
During the 2022 election, U-M students voted approximately 95% for the Democrat party.
A 2020 study by the American Economic Association cited in Houston Public Media showed that a one mile increase in driving distance to a polling location reduced turnout from districts with minority residents by 19%. Common sense dictates that the converse is true: The convenience of polling locations increases voting.
These two statistics alone indicate that students were courted in 2022, likely due to their propensity to vote for one political party over another. In other words, the Ann Arbor City clerk and U-M officials appear to have deliberately skewed the electorate.
Who is allowed to “get out the vote”?
Political parties are allowed to rally voter support and “get out the vote” on a partisan basis.
But the law requires election clerks to administer fair and unbiased elections. Public universities, funded by the generosity of taxpayers, are chartered with imparting knowledge and not with propagandizing one political ideology over another. Likewise, nonprofit organizations such as 501(c)3 charities enjoy tax exempt status on condition that they provide services for the public good and not behave in a partisan manner.
The government, universities, and charitable organizations – due to their inordinate power and tax-favored status – are prohibited from behaving in a partisan manner.
Elected officials or private entities putting their thumbs on the scale of elections is the stuff of third-world nations like Venezuela, Iran, and Russia. In further tyrannical fashion, the CCP has attained such complete, one-party control over the People’s Republic of China that the PRC foregoes the inconvenience of elections altogether.
For these reasons, the apparent deliberate insertion of bias into the Ann Arbor and U-M campus election process goes far beyond troubling. It violates requirements for charitable tax status with the IRS and arguably crosses the boundaries of law.
Violations of law
MFE’s soon-to-be released report – Part 3 in the series – will show that the city clerk and the University Michigan violated federal and state law in several ways. Two apparent violations include the following:
1) Unequal application of election law violates MCL 168.509dd(1) & SEC. 8(b) of the National Voters Registration Act (NVRA).
2) Students were given preferential treatment, likely due to their voting preference.
A picture worth a thousand words
The map of Ann Arbor in Figure #1 depicts all 17 U-M housing locations, the clerk’s office, and the two satellite offices established on campus. As the pinpoints show, the satellite offices were clearly placed to target university students in student housing communities.
Ghosting senior citizens
Figure #2 shows the largest 23 senior living centers in Ann Arbor. Readers will notice a large clump of these senior centers in the southwest corner of the city near the Briarwood Mall.
Why was no satellite office established in the area to assist senior voters?
Seniors tend to have more difficulty driving or walking to the polls than 20- to 35-year-old college students. One has to wonder if the satellite offices were set up specifically to register people who voted for one particular party over another. MFE and PIME analysis shows that Ann Arbor precincts with at least one university housing location voted, on average, 94.7% for the Democrat candidate for governor. Source: Proprietary MFE and PIME research based on open source and Freedom of Information Act information.
MFE and PIME agree. It is hardly possible to equitably locate satellite offices across the entire city. In order to avoid the appearance of bias or favoring one demographic group over another, the accepted norm for years was to avoid establishing satellite offices altogether. PIME and MFE recommend that everyone should have the same access to voting, so the fairest application of election law would be a return to the norm with no satellite offices.
Significant violations of law occurred in the 2022 election in Ann Arbor. As MFE reported on April 3, 2023, at least 600 voters were allowed to register at satellite offices after 8:00 PM and have their absentee ballots unlawfully counted. A full 120 voters were registered on November 9 and cast absentee ballots that were counted in the November 8 election. Records were altered and computer systems were reportedly changed to allow the unlawful counting of these absentee ballots.
This article shows that Ann Arbor clearly participated in unequal application of election law in favoring the student population over all other demographics in the city. These actions violated MCL168.509dd(1) & SEC. 8(b) of the National Voters Registration Act (NVRA).
The results of the past election serve as models for change going forward. Those who committed unlawful acts should be held accountable, and these violations of law must be prevented moving forward.
Coming next: Part 3 – “Over 100 people allowed to re-register illegally and vote in the City of Ann Arbor, causing unreasonably long lines and suppressing voters”