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MFE RELEASE: Michigan undergoes federal audit. MFE submits 64-page request for auditors to assess nine areas of potential noncompliance.

Updated: Feb 22

February 7, 2024


As Michigan undergoes federal audit for its use of election funds, Michigan Fair Elections asks federal auditors to assess nine areas of the state’s potential noncompliance.


MFE’s 64-page report suggests state appears to have failed to comply with audit standards and federal law when spending $57.6 million in Help America Vote Act funds.

 

Michigan Fair Elections (MFE) submitted a 64-page report to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) asking the EAC Office of Inspector General to assess nine areas of Michigan's potential noncompliance with the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). The Office of Inspector General (OIG) operates as an independent division of the EAC and is responsible for safeguarding federal investments in the national electoral system. The OIG conducts audits, investigations, and evaluations of EAC grantees, and Michigan has accepted $57.6 million in HAVA grants from 2015 to 2022. MFE submitted its Request for Assessment of Audit Risk on January 31, 2024. 


“Michigan Fair Elections’ audit committee has prepared the enclosed Request for Assessment of Audit Risk in order to call the EAC OIG’s attention to specific areas of concern,” MFE stated in a letter accompanying the report. “An EAC audit of the issues described herein would strengthen the conduct of the state’s elections and help instill public confidence.”


Click here to view full report, Request for Assessment of Audit Risk. Also, One Page Summary, page 70:


Request to EAC OIG for MI HAVA Audit 240131
.pdf
Download PDF • 5.29MB

Patrice Johnson, chairman of MFE, said, “The EAC and Michigan Fair Elections share a common goal. We both are trying to safeguard the use of taxpayer dollars for transparent and fair elections and be sure elections are administered according to the law.” 


MFE, a nonprofit educational 501(c)(3) organization, is dedicated to election integrity, and its supporters operate local task forces throughout the state.

 

One area of concern, Johnson said, is that the state’s official records showed 104,137 more votes than voters in the 2020 election. The smaller, non-presidential election in 2022 counted 17,974 more ballots than voters, so the problem is recurring.


“States are required to maintain accurate voter rolls,” Johnson said. “The number of votes is supposed to match the number of voters. It’s as simple as that.”

Johnson added that voter histories should not change but many were in flux, and “voters are supposed to have only one ID number, but this state assigns them two numbers.” The MFE report showed an excerpt from a memo from the Director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections in which he admitted to the state’s assigning two voter identifiers to voters.  

 

“These practices invite double voting, they make audits next to impossible, and they are against the law,” Johnson said.

 

HAVA Sec. 902 mandates audits of state grantees, and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Office of Inspection General (OIG) oversees the audits. As a way to protect U.S. elections, HAVA allows for Election Integrity Organizations (EIOs) like MFE to provide input to the audits.


Johnson thanked the MFE audit team and supporters for their months of investigation and hard work to create the Request for Assessment of Audit Risk. MFE works with CheckMyVote, a system developed to monitor the integrity of the state’s official voter roll, called the Qualified Voter File (QVF).


Another of MFE’s concerns involves the state’s agreement with the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson joined Michigan in ERIC in 2019, Since then, the state has shared federally protected, personal identifying information of under-aged minors and drivers who decline to register to vote with third-party ERIC.


“Sharing this private, personally identifying information with third-party organizations violates HAVA protections,” said Jeff Schaeper, leader of the MFE Audit team. "Then ERIC shares this private information with undisclosed and, apparently biased, third parties of its choosing."

 

HAVA requires states that receive HAVA monies to make reasonable efforts to remove invalid registrations. After joining ERIC, the state’s registered voters has grown to exceed its voting age population, an impossible number. “You can’t have more registered voters than voting aged citizens,” Johnson said. “To put it in perspective, the nationwide average percentage of registered voters to a state’s voting age population is 69%.”

 

MFE’s report also expressed concern that several of the state’s recently passed election laws are noncompliant with federal election laws. “These laws could lead to voter suppression,” Schaeper said. “Every ineligible ballot that is counted nullifies the vote of a legitimate voter.”

 

In addition to auditing Michigan in 2024 the EAC Office of Inspector General announced audits of Georgia (paused and restarted), Virginia, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. (See EAC OIG Semiannual Report, pages 9 and 10).


Michigan Fair Elections is a Michigan-based, non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Its local task forces are dedicated to restoring fair and honest elections through education, local citizen participation in elections, and litigation. MFE continues to remain at the forefront of working diligently toward election integrity through education, informing, and counter lawfare.


Contact: Alex Weddon at contact@mifairelections.com, 734-260-9610.

 

# # #

One Page Summary:

Request for Assessment of Audit Risk

To Elections Assistance Commission, Office of Inspector General

From Michigan Fair Elections


For more information and detail email: contact@mifairelections.com, (517) 299-8002.



Letter to Elections Assistance Commission Office of Inspector General


January 30, 2024

 

 

U.S. Election Assistance Commission

Office of Inspector General

Attn: Ms. Brianna Schletz, Inspector General

633 3rd Street NW, Suite 200

Washington, DC 20001


Dear Ms. Schletz,


Michigan Fair Elections (MFE) understands your office is undertaking an audit of Michigan regarding thestate’s usage of Help America Vote Act (HAVA) grants of $57.6 million between 2015 and 2022. The enclosed report, Request for EAC OIG Assessment of Audit Risk, identifies areas of potential noncompliance with Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS). MFE, as an interested party and potential user of the audit report, hereby provides input and requests the EAC OIG assess the audit risk of issues identified in the attached Request per GAGAS Yellow Book section 8.37.


Per its website, the EAC OIG, audits the use of HAVA funds” and is charged with

safeguarding “the Federal investment in our electoral system.” The EAC OIG “accomplishes this mission by conducting audits, investigations, and evaluations of EAC, its programs, its contractors, and its grantees.” Michigan Fair Elections’ audit committee has prepared the enclosed Request for EAC OIG Assessment of Audit Risk in order to call the EAC OIG’s attention to specific areas of concern. An EAC OIGaudit of the issues described herein would strengthen the conduct of the state’s elections and instill public confidence.

 

As we understand them, the objectives of the audit are as follows: 1) to determine whether states used funds for authorized purposes in accordance with Sections 101 and 251 of HAVA and other applicable federal requirements; 2) to properly account for and control property purchased with HAVA payments; and 3) to ensure the state used HAVA funds in a manner consistent with the informational plans provided to the EAC.

 

A main area of concern involves the accuracy and reliability of Michigan’s elections

processes and the state’s administration of its official voter rolls, the Qualified Voter File (QVF). For the past two federal elections, the number of counted ballots has exceeded the number of reported voters by an order of magnitude. The Secretary of State’s office, responsible for overseeing Michigan elections, showed 17,974 more votes than voters in 2022, and it reported 104,137 more votes than voters in 2020, according to the first publicly available state records, the official QVF.


In each subsequent monthly QVF, the recorded voters and their voter histories, which should be set in stone, have changed, yet the state has never reconciled the discrepancies between voters and counted ballots in either election. Delayed votes are added and implausible shifts in voter histories continue to occur each month and are documented in Section VIII.


Also, after her inauguration into office in 2019, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has instituted various HAVA-noncompliant processes and procedures. One apparent violation includes joining Michigan in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). Since signing an agreement with ERIC (Exhibit A), Michigan shares itsresidents’ federally protected personal identifying information with the nontransparent and apparently biased third party.

 

ERIC’s founder and former CEO, David Becker, described ERIC, described ERIC as “The most effective voter registration drive in history.” The EAC has ruled that HAVA funds are not to be used for get out the vote activities, so Michigan’s participation in ERIC would make the state noncompliant with its usage of HAVA funds. Also of note, thestate indemnifies ERIC from harm in its agreement.

 

After joining ERIC, the state’s voter registrations on its official Qualified Voter File have grown to exceed the state’s total voting age population. The chart below shows more voter registrants than voting age population (VAP), and the gap is widening.



As of December 31, 2023, Michigan’s official voter rolls (https://mvic.sos.state.mi.us/VoterCount/Index) reported the state’s registered voters at 8,250,060. However, the state’s voting age population (VAP), based on 2022 U.S. Census data (https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial- census/about/voting-rights/cvap.html), was listed as 7,661,198. (See CVAP2017-2021 5-Year ACS Data

- CSV Format) (Download at: https://www2.census.gov/programs- surveys/decennial/rdo/datasets/2021/2021-cvap/CVAP_2017-2021_ACS_csv_files.zip).


The deliberate and sustained bloating of the voter rolls raises concerns that Michigan is failing to makereasonable efforts to remove invalid registrations, as HAVA Title III, Section 303(a)(4)(A) requires.


The Request for EAC OIG Assessment of Audit Risk also provides documentation of, and the SoS’s admission to, issuing two ID numbers for the same voter registrants. The QVF undergoes near-constant adjustments, so trackingelection records has become a moving target.


In addition to these and other procedural and process violations of Title III by the SoS, the state recently enacted noncompliant election laws.


Two types of voter suppression may offset honest votes in an election. One type prevents a legal person from voting. The other occurs when an ineligible yet counted ballot nullifies a legitimate vote. The issue of interfering with a person’s right to vote tends to attract more attention. However, illegitimate votes infused into the ballot stream are equally damaging.

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall summarized the problem in Anderson vs. US 417

U.S. 211 (1974) when he cited another judge’s words.

 

“The deposit of forged ballots in the ballot boxes, no matter how small or great their number, dilutes the influence of honest votes in an election, and whether in greater or less degree is immaterial.” (Prichard v.United States, 181 F.2d 326, [417 U.S. 211, 227] 331 (CA6), aff'd due to absence of quorum, 339 U.S. 974 (1950)).

 

The potential for voter suppression due to ballot dilution poses a clear and present danger to Michigan’selections in 2024. Voter suppression would result from state noncompliance with safeguards protecting “the Federal investment in our electoral system.” For this reason, MFE is submitting the enclosed Request for EAC OIG Assessment of Audit Risk (Request).

 

MFE is a nonprofit educational 501(c)3 organization (EIN: 92-3943258). We are dedicated to providing ongoing citizen oversight, transparency, and accountability to Michigan elections. Our federated network of local task forcesand citizen organizations aligns individual missions to build a permanent election integrity infrastructure throughout the state.

 

For the EAC OIG’s convenience, the Request is organized according to the following GAGAS sections:

 

I.         GAGAS 8.98 Assessing the sufficiency and appropriateness of computer-processed information.

II.         GAGAS 8.102e Trend Information

III.        GAGAS 8.68 to 8.70 Provisions of Laws, Regulations, Contracts and Grant Agreements

IV.        GAGAS 8.71 to 8.76: Risk of fraud

V.         GAGAS 8.104e Testimonial evidence

VI.        GAGAS 8.59 to 8.67 Information Systems Controls Considerations

VII.       GAGAS 8.104 Documentary evidence like database extracts

VIII.      GAGAS 8.104f Evidence from a third party

IX.        GAGAS 8.37 Legislator Input

X.         Voter Suppression

XI.         Conclusions

XII.        Exhibits


We appreciate the EAC OIG’s consideration and are available to discuss the issues and provide more informationat your convenience. MFE requests a response by February 29, 2024.

 

Respectfully submitted,



Patrice Johnson

Patrice Johnson, Chair

Phone number: (517) 299-8002


Cc: Interested parties per GAGAS 8.37:

Brown and Co. LLC

Michigan Office of the Auditor General EAC Commissioners

Michigan Secretary of State Michigan Director ofElections

Farm Credit Bureau OIG Inspector General

Michigan House and Senate Election Committee Chairs and Minority Vice Chairs Michigan Joint Committee ofAdministrative Rules Chairs and Minority Vice Chairs

U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chair and Ranking Member

U.S. House Administration Elections Subcommittee Chair and Ranking Member

U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee Chair and Ranking Member

U. S. Senate Appropriations Chair and Vice Chair

Members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Standards Board and its Designated Federal Officer (“DFO”)

Election Integrity Network Chair


Request to EAC OIG 240130-PDF
.pdf
Download PDF • 15.61MB

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