by Elizabeth Dallam-Ayoub | September 12, 2023
The phrase, election integrity, evokes images in the minds of many people and media outlets of rowdy citizens touting disinformation and spreading discord. Hillary Clinton maligned civic-minded citizens as “deplorables” and “irredeemables” inflicting a “wound that will infect the region and destroy democracy.” In contrast to Clinton’s petty jibes, we at Michigan Fair Elections view a person’s involvement in election integrity as a noble pursuit, as the stuff of which honor and decency are made.
Election integrity comes down to one word: Respect. Respect for the individual. Respect for the rule of law. Respect for the fundamental principles of our republic. Fair, honest, and transparent elections depend on respecting a code of ethics in which people (and elected officials) limit their powers.
My rights end where your rights begin.
The concept of a republic protecting individual rights was born in ancient Greece. Socrates taught Plato, and Plato taught Aristotle. Then Greece fell to Rome and the Roman Empire reigned for nearly 1,000 years. It grew to encompass nearly two-million square miles and became one of the most powerful and influential systems of government in history.
Remnants of Roman roads, buildings, temples, and monuments as much as 2,700 years of age can be found in parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa.
But as a medieval French poet wrote, Rome ne fu pas faite toute en un jour. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
So it is with election integrity. Whether laying the foundation of a Colosseum or determining systems for election administration, the process is much the same: The designer proceeds step by step and block by block.
On the day after the U.S. election in 2020, citizens of the greatest power on Earth woke to a feeling that they were mysteriously teleported in their sleep to a sleazy, third-world country. What was up with these count stoppages during the middle of the night? How could these weird spikes in vote tabulations have occurred after the polls were long closed? Lawsuits popped up and people called for audits. Neighbors gathered to discuss, "What are we going to?"
Stone by stone, plank by plank, election integrity groups formed and set to work. Their goal? To rebuild a transparent infrastructure of checks and balances—all to ensure that the greatest experiment in individual liberty, the U.S.A., would not perish from this earth. Stone by stone, brick by brick, MFE volunteers and others stepped forward to preserve and protect the beacon on the hill that respects each individual’s unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
In Michigan Tim Vetter and Phani Mantravadi set a cornerstone on a software program they created to protect the integrity of our state's voter rolls, for safe and honest elections are built from quality lists of who is eligible to vote and has voted. With the launch of CheckMyVote, Vetter and Mantravadi put access to the voter rolls into citizens' hands. Tap a few key and anyone can make sure an address is a real address and where a real person lives.
A new record: 53 registrations in one home.
Address by address volunteers uncovered locations that were high-school parking lots and public parks. No way were they actual residences. Homeowners listed in long-ago-sold homes. Noncitizens, too, yet these alleged residents were recorded as having cast ballots. Each time someone went to CheckMyVote and reported what they learned, they dislodged a cracked stone and refortified the foundation.
Another MFE volunteer met with people and educated them on the Qualified Voter File (QVF), the state's official voter database maintained by the secretary of state. The mentor showed volunteers how to read the file and check for anomalies, like registrants aged 140 years old and still listed as active voters. With each reset stone the flood wall rose.
Another volunteer stepped into a courtroom with evidence of 26,000 dead people on Michigan’s voter rolls. This worker asked the court to require Michigan’s secretary of state to remove the names. When ordered to do so, the SOS balked, so the worker gathered more stones and continued to plug the gaping hole in the monument called election integrity. The lawsuit proceeded.
Meanwhile, a group of lumber-loaded volunteers arrived in Lansing. They met with their legislators and showed them examples of questionable practices and outcomes. They offered to help their representatives and senators know what was happening beyond Lansing’s boundaries. They discussed laws that impacted elections and election processes. Stone by stone, they constructed sill plates atop the wall.
Piece by piece, volunteers hosted events and wrote articles. Others traveled to speak and meet and educate. They researched and investigated. They fortified the structure of the nation so it could continue to uphold the dominant economic and military power of the world—all for the betterment of humankind.
Michigan Fair Elections’ volunteers work for this state, just as other election integrity groups work for their states, stone by stone to last a lifetime.
The stones that remain in Rome today memorialize the work of individuals who dug and carried and laid a stone. Election integrity will memorialize each volunteer who shares the burden, stone by stone.
Elizabeth Ayoub started her career working for an international company, transitioned into teaching French and Latin while her children were young, and then became a Michigan attorney. She resides in St. Johns.
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Calendar of Events:
Citizen Research Project | Ned Jones, EIN
Every Tuesday at 6 p.m. (ET)
Election Technology | Jim Womack, NCEIT
Every 2nd and 4th Thursday at 4 p.m. (ET)
Introduction to Election Integrity Infrastructure | Kerri Toloczko and Ned Jones, EIN
Every 2nd and 4th Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET)
Vote By Mail / USPS | Ned Jones, EIN
Every 1st and 3rd Tuesday at 4 p.m. (ET)
Legislative Development | Kathleen Harms, TN
Every Wednesday at 2 p.m. (ET)
Ranked Choice Voting | Melody Clarke, EIN
Every 1st and 3rd Thursday at 4 p.m. (ET)
Voter Roll Maintenance | Cleta Mitchell, EIN
Every Wednesday at 4 p.m. (ET)
Vulnerable Voters | Kerri Toloczko, EIN
Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday at 4 p.m. (ET)
Kerri Toloczko: Join us on Tuesday, September 12th when we continue to discuss the importance of protecting minority voters through our Vulnerable Voters calls.
Media Training | Kerri Toloczko, EIN
Every 1st Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET)
Fun for all:
PIME supporters gather at Veterans Park in Stockbridge for the second annual picnic.
Alex and Becky Weddon confer with Jane Figueirido.
Bruce and Gary square off for a game of corn hole.
Tucker Carlson presents in Utica, Mich. on Sep. 10, 2023. Photo by Sheree Ritchie.
Phani Mantravadi (in hat) and Jeff Schaeper (background) introduce interested visitors to CheckMyVote.org and MFE's Soles to the Rolls program Sep. 10, 2023.. Photo by Sheree Ritchie.
Jeff Schaeper, Tim Vetter, and Phani Mantravadi (L to R) set up table and await visitors, Sep. 10, 2023. Photo by Sheree Ritchie.