Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election in Michigan. But our election system still has problems that need fixing.
Let me start with this: I was disappointed in the results of the 2020 election. I wanted President Donald Trump to win. Not only did I vote for President Trump both times; I was also honored to be invited to the White House with a select group of state and local elected officials in October 2019, and I was a national delegate for then-candidate Trump at the 2016 convention.
When the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee began its investigation of the presidential-election results last November, I was caught between two hopes: hope that my candidate won and hope that the fundamental unit of our democracy, our election system, was secure.
Over the past seven months, we have painstakingly reviewed every claim presented to us about the 2020 election in Michigan. We listened to nearly 30 hours of public hearings; heard testimony from 87 eyewitnesses, experts and concerned citizens, including the CEO of Dominion Voting Systems and those leading the way on claims of election fraud; reviewed more than 400 pages of written statements; and subpoenaed key documents from the Michigan secretary of state and the cities of Detroit and Livonia.
The outcome reflects nothing more than our investigation of Michigan and the vulnerabilities of that system. While every U.S. state has some similarities, each individual state is quite different. My colleagues and I never intended to chart a national course. We did our best to investigate every avenue presented to us, with special care given to the first-hand reports of what happened at now-famous locations such as Antrim County and the TCF Center in Detroit, where serious fraud was alleged. What we found was an especially complex and dynamic set of circumstances. While there are real vulnerabilities in Michigan’s voting system, there was no evidence of systemic or widespread fraud in Michigan’s 2020 election.
But the legitimacy of the 2020 result does not mean there are no problems with our state’s electoral system. The vulnerabilities 2020 revealed are real and need to be addressed. The drumbeat from Republicans in 2016, and now Democrats in 2020, that the elections were perfect and without problems is clearly made with situational bias and ignores the very reason the argument is being made. Reforms are, in fact, needed. There are genuine improvements that can and should be made. If they are not, the vulnerabilities will, at the very least, continue to lead to confusion and conflict, if not to actual attempts at exploitation. Some of the needed reforms include:
- Keeping and making voter-ID requirements uniform
- Establishing rules for signature verification
- Improving the absentee-voting process, including the application process and the chain of custody for AV ballots
- Early tabulation of received AV ballots
- Routinely cleaning up the state’s file of eligible Michigan voters
- Expanding the size of canvassing boards and extending the time to certify election results to make verifying results smoother and less chaotic
- Better and uniform training and accountability for poll challengers
- Cooperation between states to ensure voters only vote in one state
Improvements such as these are needed to make our system more secure and more responsive to modern voting behaviors, and they are needed to restore confidence in our elections. Contrary to the current buzz, confidence in elections is not just a “Republican problem.” It’s a problem that has plagued our presidential elections on and off since George Washington and, in modern times, at least, since 2000, in the hotly contested Bush vs. Gore election. Public skepticism crested again in 2016, after which congressional Democrats spent four years proclaiming fraud. Then again over the past two years, as soon as Democrats gained majority power in Congress, which they used to investigate the possibility of Russian election interference and other conspiracy theories. They also came up empty-handed.
Putting out this report was anything but convenient. But I firmly believe that the only way to make critical reforms that will truly secure our elections is to start with the truth, and with a commitment to acting on it regardless of situational or partisan considerations.
That was, and remains, the sole purpose of this report: to tell the truth and help us build an even stronger, fairer, and freer republic.