Secretary of State rebuffs requests by GOP for third-party election audit

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is voicing her concerns about some GOP lawmakers wanting to relitigate the 2020 election and by having the leader of the Auditor General's Office who was appointed by the Republican-controlled legislature to review audits of local election procedures and administrators.

"I think there are efforts right now in this state to make it harder to vote, and easier to overturn an election," Benson said. "We're seeing that all across the country and here in Michigan.

"It all gets back to when you have inexperienced people, potentially with an agenda, getting their hands on private election data and secured voting machines to do potentially nefarious things or otherwise. And (to) reach conclusions that are false, about the security of elections as a way of causing more misinformation to flourish in our state."

Benson says she reached out to Attorney General Dana Nessel to determine if the Auditor General's Office has the authority to recreate audits conducted by county clerks.

In addition to the more than 250 audits of last year's election, the State Senate oversight committee found there was no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud.

"If they already performed the audits and they already know the results and everything was secure and like it says, was the safest and most secure election in history, if there is somebody reviewing that work, wouldn't they come to the same result?" asked Rep. Ryan Berman (R-District 39). "There are many people out there, many of my constituents, and I'm hearing from them every day that this is the number one issue out there because of what's going on.

FOX 2 spoke with Berman, as well as State Senator and former Secretary of State Ruth Johnson who chairs the senate election committee.
they both support the auditor general giving post-election audits a once-over.

Both Berman and Johnson are Republicans. Benson and Nessel are Democrats.

"Secretary of State Benson should not be trying to hinder the review of her post-election audits and as the past Secretary of State, I always welcomed the auditor general's work to point out areas that could help me make the office better," Johnson said. "And I'm very concerned that Secretary Benson doesn't want an independent, professional, third-party audit of our elections in Michigan."

"Our election processes have withstood significant scrutiny over the past eight months and we have met every question, every sincere effort to look with data into the processes of our elections," Benson said.

FOX 2 reached out to the Office of Auditor General for comment but has no response yet.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Nessel says Benson's request about the legality of the auditor general's actions is still under review.