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Michigan county seeks vote recount sought by Trump backers

June 22, 2021 GMT

CHEBOYGAN, Mich. (AP) —

A rural northern Michigan county sought state permission Tuesday to recount its 2020 presidential election ballots and hire an outside firm to look for evidence of voting machine tampering.

The Cheboygan County Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 to send a letter to the state elections director seeking a hand recount of the ballots and a comparison of the results with those reported after the Nov. 3 election. Donald Trump carried the county with a 64% majority but lost statewide to Joe Biden by 154,000 votes, or 2.8 percentage points.

The board also proposed hiring an “accredited election auditor” to examine whether the county’s voting equipment had been “in communication with any unauthorized computer and whether there is any evidence that any unauthorized computer actually manipulated” the votes.

“As commissioners, we have heard from many of our constituents expressing concerns/questions” about the election, said the letter signed by Chairman John Wallace. “We believe we have a responsibility to address these concerns/questions.”

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Michigan’s election system is overseen by the Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat. Spokeswoman Tracy Wimmer said Benson’s office would review the letter and respond to the commission.

Benson has said 250 post-election audits conducted around the state showed the election was “fair, secure and accurate, and that the results reflect the will of Michigan voters.”

Also Tuesday, a Republican state representative introduced a bill proposing a statewide audit of the 2020 vote by an outside group. A conservative group on Monday urged the GOP-dominated Michigan Senate to conduct a review.

Trump and his supporters in numerous states have raised unsubstantiated suspicions of fraud and debunked conspiracy theories in an effort to cast doubt on Biden’s victory. The election outcome has been certified by local and state officials as well as Congress, and lawsuits seeking to overturn it have met with more than 60 court rejections.

A Detroit-area attorney who appealed the dismissal of a challenge to Trump’s loss in Michigan offered to provide auditors free of charge to examine Cheboygan County’s voting machines.

The proposal prompted sharp debate in the county. Supporters argued that unanswered questions remained about the vote, echoing allegations of security problems made by Trump supporters elsewhere, including in Arizona’s Maricopa County. Opponents said there was no factual basis for such claims.

“People have been trying to exploit our county, trying to persuade us to conduct an audit when there’s absolutely no indication there was fraud,” said Owen Goslin, a member of an advocacy group called Center for Change Northern Michigan.