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Michigan Voting History - History

Michigan Voting History - History


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183612,052Martin Van Buren6,50754William Harrison5,545
184044,029William Harrison22,93352.1Martin VaN Buren21,09647.9
184455,560James Polk27,73749.9Henry Clay24,18543.5
184865,082Zachary Taylor23,94736.8Lewis Cass30,74247.2
185282,939Frankilin Pierce41,84250.4Winfield Scott33,86040.8
1856125,558James Buchann52,13641.5John Fremont71,76257.2
1860154,758Abraham Lincoln88,48157.2Stephen Douglas65,05742
1864165,279Abraham Lincoln91,13355.1George McClelan74,14644.9
1868225,632Ulysses Grant128,56357Horatio Seymour97,06943
1872221,569Ulysses Grant138,76862.6Horace Greeley78,65135.5
1876318,426Rutherford Hayes166,90152.4Samuel Tilden141,66544.5
1880353,076James Garfield185,33552.5Winfield Scott131,59637.3
1884364,490Grover Cleveland149,83541.1James Blaine192,66952.9
1888475,356Benjamin Harrison236,38749.7Grover Cleveland213,46944.9
1892466,917Grover Cleveland202,39643.3Benjamin Harrison222,70847.7
1896545,583William McKinley293,33653.8William Bryant237,16443.5
1900543,789William McKinley316,01458.1William Bryant211,43238.9
1904520,443Theo. Roosevelt361,86369.5Alton Parker134,16325.8
1908538,124William Taft333,31361.9William Bryant174,61932.4
1912547,971Woodrow Wilson150,20127.4Theo. Roosevelt213,24338.9
1916646,873Woodrow Wilson283,99343.9Charles Hughes337,95252.2
19201,048,411Warren Harding762,86572.8James Cox233,45022.3
19241,160,419Calvin Coolidge874,63175.4John Davis152,35913.1
19281,372,082Herbert Hoover965,39670.4Alfred Smith396,76228.9
19321,372,082Franklin Roosevelt965,39670.4Herbert Hoover396,76228.9
19361,805,098Franklin Roosevelt1,016,79456.3Alfred Landon699,73338.8
19402,085,929Franklin Roosevelt1,032,99149.5Wendell Will1,039,91749.9
19442,205,223Franklin Roosevelt1,106,89950.2Thomas Dewey1,084,42349.2
19482,109,609Harry Truman1,003,44847.6Thomas Dewey1,038,59549.2
19522,798,592Dwight Eisenhowe1,551,52955.4Adlai Stevenson1,230,65744
19563,080,468Dwight Eisenhowe1,713,64755.6Adlai Stevenson1,359,89844.1
19603,318,097John F Kennedy1,687,26950.9Richard Nixon1,620,42848.8
19643,203,102Lyndon Johnson2,136,61566.7Barry Goldwater1,060,15233.1
19683,306,250Richard Nixon1,370,66541.5Hubert Humphrey1,593,08248.2
19723,489,727Richard Nixon1,961,72156.2George McGovern1,459,43541.8
19763,653,749Jimmy Carter1,696,71446.4Gerald Ford1,893,74251.8
19803,909,725Ronald Reagan1,915,22549Jimmy Carter1,661,53242.5
19843,801,658Ronald Reagan2,251,57159.2Walter Mondale1,529,63840.2
19883,669,163George Bush1,965,48653.6Michael Dukais1,675,78345.7
19924,274,673Bill Clinton1,871,18243.8George Bush1,554,94036.4
19963,644,460William Clint1,911,55352.45Bob Dole1,413,81238.79%
20004,232,711George W Bush1,953,13946.1Al Gore2,170,81351.3
20044,839,252George W Bush2,313,74647.8John Kerry2,479,18351.2
20084,978,019Barack Obama2,872,57957.7%John McCain2,048,63941.2%

Voting Rights Milestones in America: A Timeline

Since America’s founding days, when voting was limited to white male property owners, to the transformative Voting Rights Act of 1965, to sweeping voting process reform introduced in the early 2000s, the right to vote in U.S. elections has seen massive change.

The original Constitution left voting rights to the states for a range of reasons, including a compromise over slavery and the fact that the concept of setting up a representative democracy was new, says David Schultz, a political science professor at Hamline University and the University of Minnesota School of Law.

“In 1787, the United States was in a unique position,” he says. “When you looked across the rest of the world you saw monarchies and principalities. You didn’t have this concept of voting rights. You didn’t vote kings in or out of office.”

Members of the National League of Women Voters, September 1924.

In the 1820s, property qualifications for voting began to be eliminated, and amendments, including the 15th and 19th, granted the right to vote to Black men and to women, respectively, although they didn’t guarantee that right to all Americans. During the nearly century-long Jim Crow era, for example, intimidation, violence, literacy tests, poll taxes, grandfather clauses and other tools were used to prevent voting for minority populations in the South.

But the Voting Rights Act, Schultz says, pushed back those restrictions.

“The VRA did what Reconstruction did: It put federal muscle behind voting rights,” Schultz says. “. At the end of the day, if you as a state weren’t going to protect voting rights, you knew that the Department of Justice was going to take action and the Supreme Court was there to support them.”

After the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision found section 4 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, states that had previously had to clear election changes through the federal government were free to make changes on their own. That led to new waves of state laws enacting voter ID requirements, closed polling stations, restrictions on vote by mail and limited voting hours.

“We have two tendencies in American history regarding voting rights,” Schultz says. “One has been the gradual expansion toward universal franchise over time, but at the same time there has been a counterpush to disenfranchise.”

Below is a timeline of milestones in American voting rights history.


Michigan Capitol Confidential Vote History

"Revising Pension System" - Lawmakers voting to keep the current pension system instead of switching public school employees into a 401(k) plan like the rest of government workers and nearly all private-sector employees.

"Pure Spending" - Lawmakers who voted TO SPEND $10 MILLION MORE on Pure Michigan advertising.

November 2010

"Minimum Wage"- Michigan congressional delegates who voted TO PROHIBIT EMPLOYMENT FOR LESS THAN A SPECIFIED WAGE.

October 2010

"Teacher Union Money" - Republican lawmakers who received money from the Michigan Education Association (MEA).

August 2010

"Stimulus Fund Approval" - Lawmakers voting on STIMULUS FUNDING.

"Smoking Ban" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO PROHIBIT BUSINESS OWNERS from allowing smoking in their buildings.

"Unpaid Parking Tickets" - Lawmakers who voted TO BLOCK DRIVER LICENSE RENEWAL FOR THREE UNPAID PARKING TICKETS.

"Selected Tax Breaks" - Lawmakers voting IN FAVOR OF A SPECIAL TAX BREAK for a company in Gaylord.

"Unemployment Spending" - Lawmakers IN FAVOR OF a resolution asking Congress for more unemployment and Medicaid spending.

"Super Speedway" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO EXTEND A SPECIAL TAX PERK for a super speedway.

"Driver Responsibility Fees" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO IMPOSE 'driver responsibility fees.'

"Crony Capitalism " - Lawmakers voting on whether TO RESTRICT THE RIGHT of shareholders to sell their own stock.

"Right to Work" - Lawmakers voting on an amendment SUPPORTING RIGHT-TO-WORK zones.

"Dept. of State Cost-Saving" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO SLOW DOWN PROGRESS ON THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S COST-SAVING CONSOLIDATION PLAN.

March/April 2010 Edition (click here for full edition)

"Golf Carts" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO SUBSIDIZE the production of electric vehicle batteries.

January/February 2010 Edition (click here for full edition)

"Home Court Disadvantage" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO GIVE MORE TAXING POWER to local government in Kalamazoo so it can finance a taxpayer-subsidized sports arena.

"Mandate Beer Keg Buyer's Tags" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO MANDATE beer keg buyer's tags.

"Remonumentation of State Border" - Lawmakers voting on whether to appropriate funds up to $500,000 for remonumentation of the Michigan-Indiana border.

"Fire Safe Cigarettes" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO BAN the sale of cigarettes that are not "fire safe."

"Commission on Spanish-Speaking Affairs" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO EXPAND DUTIES of and rename government's Commission on Spanish-Speaking Affairs.

November/December 2009 Edition (click here for full edition)

"Balancing Act" - Lawmakers voting on a budget to CUT REVENUE SHARING PAYMENTS to local governments as a way to balance the state budget without raising taxes.

"Balancing Act" - Lawmakers voting on a cut of less than 3 percent to K-12 school aid payments so as to balance the state budget without tax increases.

"A Good Tax Gone Bad?" - Lawmakers voting on the Michigan Business Tax.

September/October 2009 Edition (click here for full edition)

"Lobster Institute" - Michigan U.S. Representatives voting on the "Lobster Institute" earmark.

"Charles B. Rangel Center" - Michigan U.S. Representatives voting on the "Charles B. Rangel Center" earmark.

"Kansas Regional Prisons Museum" - Michigan U.S. Representatives voting on the "Kansas Regional Prisons Museum" earmark.

"National Mule and Packers Museum" - Michigan U.S. Representatives voting on the "National Mule and Packers Museum" earmark.

"Perfect Christmas Tree Project" - Michigan U.S. Representatives voting on the "Perfect Christmas Tree Project" earmark.

"It's From the Children" - Lawmakers voting on whether to RAID $90 MILLION from the Michigan Higher Education Student Loan Authority.

July/August 2009 Edition (click here for full edition)

"Don't Blame Canada" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO BAN Canadian trash from Michigan landfills.

"Left Behind" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO FINANCE "No Worker Left Behind" with a 59.9 percent increase in general fund spending in the 2009 DELEG budget.

"First Class Schools?" - Lawmakers voting on whether to keep Detroit Public Schools' "first class" status even though the district no longer meets the population standard.

May/June 2009 Edition (click here for full edition)

"Politically Correct Capitalism" - Lawmakers voting on whether to INCREASE SUBSIDIES for plug-in traction battery packs used in electric cars.

"Politically Correct Capitalism" - Lawmakers voting on whether to GIVE SUBSIDIES for Michigan film production.

"Politically Correct Capitalism" - Lawmakers voting on whether to INCREASE ELECTRIC CAR SUBSIDIES for a subsidiary of a Korean battery company.

March/April 2009 Edition (click here for full edition)

"Secret Ballot" - Lawmakers voting on whether to keep a SECRET BALLOT for union elections.

"Property Taxes Assaulted Again" - Lawmakers voting on whether to allow public schools to EXPAND THE USE OF SINKING FUND property tax spending.

January/February 2009 Edition (click here for full edition)

"Sneak Attack" - Lawmakers voting on whether to allow public schools to EXPAND THE USE OF SINKING FUND property tax spending.

"Grapes of Wrath" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO BAN home shipment of beer and wine to Michigan consumers.

"Subsidize Manufacture of Electric Cars" - Lawmakers voting on whether to authorize a refundable Michigan Business Tax credit for makers of plug-in traction battery packs used in electric cars.

"Authorize Special Tax Breaks for Ethanol Gas Stations" - Lawmakers voting on whether to authorize a non-refundable Michigan Business Tax credit equal to 30 percent of the costs incurred by a gas station to convert existing pumps and tanks, or acquire new ones that deliver E85 ethanol or biodiesel fuel.

"Presidential Privileges" - Lawmakers voting on whether to require state workers to either work on President's Day or take the day off as an unpaid holiday.

November/December 2008 Edition (click here for full edition)

"Power Failure" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO MANDATE the production of "renewable" energy and pass additional costs on to ratepayers.

"Right to Work" - Lawmakers voting on whether to make Michigan into a right-to-work state.

"Annie Oakley Trail" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO NAME US-27 after Annie Oakley.

"Harry Gast Parkway" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO NAME a road after a term-limited legislator.

"Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO CREATE "Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day."

"State Children's Book" - Lawmakers voting on whether to commemorate an official state children's book.

"Novelty Lighters" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO IMPOSE $500 FINES on stores that sell cigarette lighters that are designed to look like toys, feature flashing lights or make musical sounds.

September/October 2008 Edition (click here for full edition)

"Wasteful and Wrongheaded" - Lawmakers voting on a DLEG budget with a 59.9 percent increase in general fund spending.

"Frugality Put in the Pokey" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO MANDATE a more costly process of resolving labor disputes at county jails.

"Is Private Property Leaking Away" - Lawmakers voting on government ownership of groundwater.

"Growing Up" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO PROHIBIT a business owner from choosing to allow smoking in his or her establishment.

July/August 2008 Edition (click here for full edition)

"Are We Nuts?" - Lawmakers voting on a K-12 budget that overspends estimated revenue by $32.2 million.

"Never Enough" - The amount of additional spending that each state senator supported from the $90.5 million in budget amendments from the Dept. of Community Health Budget.

"Here's the Drill" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO PROHIBIT drilling for oil and gas underneath the Great Lakes.

May/June 2008 Edition (click here for full edition)

"Extra Credit" - Lawmakers voting on a budget for the Department of History, Arts and Libraries that is 15.1 percent higher than fiscal year 2008 and 8.1 percent higher than the governor's recommendation.

"Extra Credit" - Lawmakers voting on one or more bills that would pay for tourism promotion with debt.

"Extra Credit" - Lawmakers voting on whether to provide SPENDING AUTHORIZATION for some $1 billion in construction projects at state universities and colleges and $100 million in state building and facility projects.

"Wage Fairness Commission" - Lawmakers voting on whether to mandate a government pay equity commission.

March/April 2008 Edition (click here for full edition)

"FEE-ding the Beast" - Lawmakers voting on four bills that would extend the sunset date on "temporary" business fee increases at an additional $10,760,000 per year.

"Tourism Taxes" - Lawmakers voting IN FAVOR of the local tourism tax.

January/February 2008 Edition (click here for full edition)

"Corny Energy Plans" - Lawmakers voting IN FAVOR of ethanol incentives.

"The Year of Living Expensively" - Budget bills for fiscal year 2008.

"No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO PROHIBIT the Secretary of State from closing branch offices

"Negotiating Savings" - Lawmakers voting on whether TO ALLOW PUBLIC SCHOOL EMPLOYEE UNIONS TO NEGOTIATE A BAN on privatization of noninstructional public school services.

November/December 2007 Edition (click here for full edition)

"Blown Away" - Lawmakers voting on $574 million in spending reductions.

"Blown Away" - Lawmakers voting on whether to increase the state income tax.

"Blown Away" - Lawmakers voting on whether to impose a new 6 percent sales tax on services.

"Tourism Subsidies" - Lawmakers voting on an additional $10 million on tourism promotion.

"Reform and Tax Hikes" - Lawmakers voting on whether to allow privatization of prison mental health services.

"Reform and Tax Hikes" - Lawmakers voting on whether to end certain unusually generous benefits in the public school retirement system.

"Reform and Tax Hikes" - Lawmakers voting on whether to allow more competitive bidding of school district health insurance by requiring the release of aggregate claims history.

"State Setting Private Salaries" - Lawmakers who co-sponsored one or more of the three bills that would together impose a "comparable worth" wage standard on Michigan's private-sector employees.

September/October 2007 Edition (click here for full edition)

"Competitive Bidding" - Lawmakers voting on an amendment requiring school districts to investigate saving money by privatizing and competitively bidding out for non-instructional school services like busing, food services and custodians.

"Spending Restraint " - Lawmakers voting on spending cuts of $250 million for fiscal 2007.

"Union Politics" - Lawmakers voting on whether to require unions to ask for permission annually before using members dues for political activity.

"Michigan Business Tax" - Lawmakers voting on the Michigan Business Tax - an equally costly replacement for the Single Business Tax.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.


Michigan Voters Have a History of Voting for Change. Why Joe Biden Is Bullish in this Battleground

Doug Emhoff, who is the husband of Senator Kamala Harris, speaks to the crowd during his visit Michigan to campaign for Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Harris on Oct. 12, 2020 in Lansing, Mich. Credit - Nicole Hester—Ann Arbor News/AP

This article is part of the The DC Brief, TIME&rsquos politics newsletter. Sign up here to get stories like this sent to your inbox every weekday.

Trump spent most of 2016 in a one-way fight with Detroit&rsquos automakers. He hammered them for moving jobs to Mexico and for shuttering iconic factories that were long linked to Detroit&rsquos core identity. He promised in user-friendly sound bites to bring back the jobs. Michiganders rewarded him, giving Republicans a slim win in the state for the first time since George H.W. Bush carried it in 1988.

Four years later, Michigan&rsquos economy has, quite simply, not seen the promised benefits of a Trump presidency. Despite Trump&rsquos rhetoric that America&rsquos Black voters had nothing to lose by backing him, racial disparity in the state is still staggeringly deep. At 15%, Michigan has the highest poverty rate of the five Midwest swing states still in play. Blacks are six times more likely than whites to live in economically distressed areas in this state.

Among the 12 Michigan counties that went from supporting Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016, these disparities are getting worse by a two-to-one margin, according to one study out just this week. And that was before the coronavirus pandemic sent the state&rsquos unemployment rate from 3.6% in February to 24% in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in a state where Trump had his narrowest win in 2016.

As The D.C. Brief makes its way to Michigan today, the economic woes of the industrial Midwest come into sharp focus. Michigan&rsquos manufacturing legacy is still a point of pride for the state&rsquos residents and a source of near-nostalgia for voters who remember when General Motors&rsquo 2.1-million-square foot plant in Warren provided a lifetime gig with tremendous benefits. It shut its doors last year, one of five GM facilities to do so in that round of bloodletting.

The mothballed plant sits in the southern stretch of Macomb County, one of the 12 counties that flipped from blue to red four years ago. During the primary in 2016, Trump visited Warren for a boisterous rally, promising harsh tariffs for automakers taking parts of their business abroad. &ldquoYou&rsquore going to pay a 35% tax every time you ship a car, truck or part into the United States,&rdquo Trump said during a visit to a community college just a 10-minute drive from the then-open Warren plant. The conversations that I had with voters outside that rally led me to think the message was working &mdash and they were. He handily won the state&rsquos primary a few days later. He&rsquod repeat the victory eight months later against Clinton.

Today, Trump is heading to nearby Oakland County, where Clinton won by 8 percentage points, as did Obama in 2012. Voters there should brace for more rosy talk about a roaring economy and revitalized auto industry &mdash despite Michigan having 4,700 fewer jobs in the auto industry than when Trump took office. That&rsquos almost a 12% dip.

Michigan&rsquos economy as a whole is in trouble, too. Sixteen percent of Michiganders live in economically depressed areas, outpacing every state in the region but Ohio, according to an analysis from the bipartisan Economic Innovation Group. The urban-rural divide remains stark, with residents outside of cities faring better.

Michigan voters in 2008 and 2016 alike voted for candidates preaching change, and it appears they may be ready to once again turn a page. Polling in the state shows Biden with a consistent leg up. Of the 60 surveys included in Real Clear Politics&rsquo polling universe, Trump has led in just four, and they&rsquore all from the same Republican-leaning pollster. At this point, Biden&rsquos advantage in Michigan &mdash up 6.5 percentage points &mdash is roughly twice as strong as Clinton&rsquos final polling standing before she lost the state by less than 11,000 votes.

Biden&rsquos team is feeling confident about the state, but leaving nothing to chance. The former VP and his outside allies have outspent Team Trump almost five-fold during this campaign on television alone in Michigan, though overall, the state has seen less than half of the spending being unleashed on Florida, according to NPR&rsquos analysis of ad spending. A review of Kantar/CMAG data accessed through the Wesleyan Media Project shows Biden&rsquos side has aired almost 12,000 more ads than Trump since Oct. 12. In all, Michigan voters have seen more than 22,000 ads in the last three weeks.

And while Democrats are enjoying about a 4-percentage-point advantage in early-voting returns at the moment, the state &mdash lousy economy and all &mdash isn&rsquot necessarily in the bag for Biden. The New York Times/ Siena College poll of Michigan, released this week, shows 69% of Michigan Republicans plan to vote in-person on Election Day, while 28% of Democrats said the same. John James, the GOP&rsquos Senate nominee, is a 39-year-old charismatic Black Army veteran who is giving some tailwinds behind the entire Republican ticket.

And Trump has been here before &mdash and he is his best closing pitchman. It will just require Michigan voters to once again believe the President can solve the state&rsquos legacy economy with bluster and nostalgia.


MichiganVotes Weekly Report: June 7, 2021

To authorize tax relief for a business that was forced to close for at least six weeks due to an executive or emergency order that cost the company 25% of its gross receipts for the year. The bill would authorize a business income tax credit equal to the firm’s property tax liability for the year. Businesses that rent would get a comparable credit based on lease costs. This applies to restaurants, taverns, hotels and motels, health clubs, entertainment facilities and other such “public facing” enterprises.

To prohibit the Secretary of State from charging drivers license renewal late fees until all its branch offices are open “on a consistent basis” for a minimum of 25 hours per week for in-person services with no appointment or preregistration requirement. Also, to require the department to submit to the legislature a detailed report on how it plans to get caught up on renewals delayed by branch office closures and open-hour limitations in response to the coronavirus epidemic.

To require that members of a state wolf management advisory council all be Upper Peninsula residents, unless and until winter tracking surveys and genetic testing show wolves are present in the Lower Peninsula, at which time a majority of the members of the council would have to be residents of the Lower Peninsula.

To impose a mandate on state legislators to file detailed annual personal financial disclosure reports, called "conflict of interest reports." The reports would go to a legislative ethics committees proposed by House Bill 4680, and would not be public records subject to disclosure under the state's Freedom of Information Act law.

To impose a personal financial disclosure mandate on state officers, defined as the governor and lieutenant governor, the Secretary of State, Attorney General, state treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction, members of the liquor control and civil service commissions, members of the State Board of Education and of state university governing boards.

To place before voters in the next general election a constitutional amendment that would to empower a two-thirds majority of the state House or Senate to suspend part or all of the salary and expense allowances of a member who acts unethically or is excessively absent from regular sessions. Also, to require record roll call votes on giving a new law "immediate effect" when it is passed. The state Constitution requires a two-thirds House and Senate majority vote for a new bill to go into effect immediately rather than after a specified period, and in the House this is usually done by "hammering through" the requirement using a voice vote only, not a record roll call vote.


Massey voted absentee in September, eight decades after she cast her first presidential ballot — for President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

"I don't remember whether I made each election, but I have been constantly voting," said Massey, who was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1917.

She moved to Detroit as an infant and has been a resident of the Motor City for 102 of her years, during which she voted for a host of Democrats, including John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama and now Joe Biden.

Massey recently made an appearance in a music video entitled "I Have a Right to Vote" that seeks to educate citizens about the hard-earned right to vote. The four-minute video features "Hamilton" original cast member Christopher Jackson, actors Billy Porter and Hill Harper and others reciting the words of voting-rights icons such as John Lewis and Frederick Douglass.

Massey shows up just after tennis great Billie Jean King repeats the words of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Massey, a retiree who worked for the federal government, is a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother.

Her secret to long life: "I didn't miss having fun growing up. I played a lot of sports. Clean living," she said.


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Benson and Calley were right that Trump was never going to succeed at altering the outcome in Michigan—or in any of the other contested states, or in the Electoral College itself. The 45th president’s time in office is drawing to a close. No amount of @realdonaldtrump tweets or wild-eyed allegations from his lawyers or unhinged segments on One America News can change that.

But what they can change—where he can ultimately succeed—is in convincing unprecedented numbers of Americans that their votes didn’t count. Last month, Gallup reported that the public’s confidence in our elections being accurate dropped 11 points since the 2018 midterms, which included a 34-point decrease among Republicans. That was before a daily deluge of dishonest allegations and out-of-context insinuations before the conservative media’s wall-to-wall coverage of exotic conspiracy theories before the GOP’s most influential figures winked and nodded at the president of the United States alleging the greatest fraud in U.S. history.

Trump failed to win Michigan. But he succeeded in convincing America that a loss, no matter how conclusive, may never again be conclusive enough.

The irony of Michigan’s electoral meltdown is that Election Day, in the eyes of veteran clerks and poll workers across the state, was the smoothest it had ever been. Like clockwork, one can always depend on controversies—sometimes mini-scandals—to spring up by noontime on any given Election Day. But not in 2020. There were no documented instances of voter intimidation. No outcry over precincts opening late or closing early. Heck, in the state’s biggest and busiest voting jurisdictions, there were no lines to complain about. The day was eerily uneventful.

Much of this owed to months of tireless preparation by election officials at the state and local level. Of course, it also had something to do with the historic nature of 2020: More than half of Michigan’s voters chose to vote absentee, the result of a new law that predated the deadly Covid-19 pandemic that scared many people away from voting in-person. For this reason, Michiganders were not congratulating themselves when the polls closed on election night. They knew the real gantlet lay ahead.

“You’re talking about election officials implementing new laws, running an election with a 60 percent mail vote, in the middle of a pandemic,” said Chris Thomas, Michigan’s longtime chief elections administrator, a nonpartisan who spent decades working under secretaries of state from both parties. “In terms of voters getting the ballots processed and counted in a reasonable time period, I thought they did a marvelous job. But it was a huge challenge.”

Because state law prohibited the processing of absentee votes until 7 a.m. on Election Day—preventing workers from getting a head start with the time-consuming work of opening envelopes, removing ballots and preparing them for tabulation—everyone understood the state would face a historic backlog of votes to count once the polls closed at 8 p.m. This was the source of a monthslong dispute between the Democratic governor, the Democratic secretary of state and the Republicans who control both the House and Senate in Lansing. Whitmer and Benson warned the GOP leaders that a protracted counting process, especially in the scenario of a competitive election, would invite chaos. Other states Trump carried in 2016, such as Ohio and Florida, allowed for pre-canvassing of absentee and other mail-in ballots so that voters would know which candidate carried the state on election night. Why couldn’t Michigan do the same?

In this Nov. 3 photo, election inspectors are reflected in a window as they begin processing ballots while a voter outside arrives to drop a ballot into an official box on Election Day at City Hall in Warren, Mich. | AP Photo/David Goldman

The Republicans—House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey—were not interested. Spooked by Trump’s continued assault on mail voting, and aware that their own members in the Legislature were distrustful of the new “no-excuse-absentee” rules, Chatfield and Shirkey weren’t inclined to do the process any favors. Only in the late stages of the race, when Republican state senator (and former secretary of state) Ruth Johnson suggested a meager concession—allowing 10 hours of absentee ballot processing before Election Day—did the GOP throw a bone to election workers.

It’s helpful to understand the party’s logic. Not only did they want to avoid the perception of aiding a system the president was attacking as illegitimate and not only were they skeptical of the Democrats’ concerns of a drawn-out count. But many Republicans didn’t believe the election would be terribly close to begin with. A summer’s worth of polling, conducted for them privately at the local and statewide level, indicated that Trump stood little chance of carrying Michigan a second time. The common expectation was that the president would lose comfortably, by at least 4 or 5 points, a margin that would render any controversy about absentee voting meaningless.

That thinking changed abruptly around 10 p.m. on election night. As the president surged to a durable lead in Florida—defying expectations by winning large numbers of Hispanics and holding his own among absentee voters—Michigan Republicans were gripped by equal parts euphoria and panic. It was clear Trump was running far more competitively than they’d anticipated he was on track to win Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, three states that tally their ballots quickly, meaning the spotlight would abruptly shift to the critical, slow-counting battlegrounds of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Everyone here knew this had been a possibility, but it wasn’t until midnight that the urgency of the situation crashed over Republicans. Trump had built a lead of nearly 300,000 votes on the strength of same-day ballots that were disproportionately favorable to him. Now, with the eyes of the nation—and of the president—fixed on their state, Michigan Republicans scrambled to protect that lead. Laura Cox, chair of the state party, began dialing prominent lawmakers, attorneys and activists, urging them to get down to the TCF Center, the main hub of absentee vote counting in Detroit. She was met with some confusion there were already plenty of Republicans there, as scheduled, working their shifts as poll challengers. It didn’t matter, Cox told them. It was time to flood the zone.

“This was all so predictable,” said Josh Venable, who ran Election Day operations for the Michigan GOP during five different cycles. “Detroit has been the boogeyman for Republicans since before I was born. It’s always been the white suburbs vs. Detroit, the white west side of the state vs. Detroit. There’s always this rallying cry from Republicans—‘We win everywhere else, but lose Wayne County’—that creates paranoia. I still remember hearing, back on my first campaign in 2002, that Wayne County always releases its votes last so that Detroit can see how many votes Democrats need to win the state. That’s what a lot of Republicans here believe.”

As things picked up at the TCF Center, with more and more white Republicans filing into the complex to supervise the activity of mostly Black poll workers, Chris Thomas noticed a shift in the environment. Having been brought out of retirement to help supervise the counting in Detroit—a decision met with cheers from Republicans and Democrats alike—Thomas had been “thrilled” with the professionalism he’d witnessed during Monday’s pre-processing session and Tuesday’s vote tabulating. Now, in the early morning hours of Wednesday, things were going sideways. Groups of Republican poll challengers were clustering around individual counting tables in violation of the rules. People were raising objections—such as to the transferring of military absentees onto ballots that could be read by machines, a standard practice—that betrayed a lack of preparation.

“Reading these affidavits afterward from these Republican poll challengers, I was just amazed at how misunderstood the election process was to them,” Thomas chuckled. “The things they said were going on—it’s like ‘Yeah, that’s exactly what was going on. That’s what’s supposed to happen.’” (The Trump team’s much celebrated lawsuit against Detroit was recently withdrawn after being pummeled in local courtrooms his campaign has to date won one case and lost 35.)

At one point, around 3:30 in the morning, Thomas supervised the receiving of Detroit’s final large batch of absentee ballots. They arrived in a passenger van. Thomas confirmed the numbers he’d verified over the phone: 45 trays, each tray holding roughly 300 ballots, for a total of between 13,000 and 14,000 ballots. Not long after, Charlie Spies, an attorney for the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican John James, approached Thomas inside the TCF Center. He wanted to know about the 38,000 absentee ballots that had just materialized. Thomas told him there were not 38,000 ballots that at most it might have been close to 15,000.

“I was told the number was 38,000,” Spies replied.

By five o’clock on Wednesday morning, it was apparent Trump’s lead would not hold.

His cushion over Biden had been whittled down to 70,000 votes. There remained hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots to be counted in the large, Democratic strongholds of Detroit, Lansing and Flint. The math was simply not workable for the president. Just before 9:30 a.m., Biden overtook Trump in the tally of Michigan’s votes—and suddenly, a switch flipped on the right.

After 24 hours of letting the democratic process work, Republicans around the country—watching Trump’s second term slipping through their fingers—began crying foul and screaming conspiracy. No state cornered the hysteria market quite like Michigan.

First it was breathless accusations about Antrim County, a rural Republican redoubt in northwestern Michigan with a total turnout of 16,044 voters, where the unofficial returns showed Biden leading Trump by 3,000 votes. (A human error caused the candidates’ totals to be transposed, the county clerk said, and it was quickly corrected, though this did nothing to stop context-less social media posts about the mistake from going viral, or to slow the spread of rumors about Governor Whitmer buying off local officials because she owned a vacation home in Antrim County.)

Then it was Stu Sandler, a longtime Michigan GOP operative and top adviser to James’ U.S. Senate campaign, moving preemptively to declare victory and accuse Democrats of trying to steal the seat. “John James has won this race. The ballots are counted. Stop making up numbers, stalling the process and cheating the system,” Sandler tweeted. (James, who was clinging to a small lead that would soon disappear, promptly retweeted this sinister claim. Sandler later deleted it and told me he apologized for tweeting “in the middle of an intense moment”—but stuck to his claims of widespread “irregularities” that damaged his candidate.)

The true insanity was saved for Detroit. By early afternoon on Wednesday, hundreds and hundreds of Republicans had descended on the TCF Center, responding to an all-hands-on-deck missive that went out from the state party and was disseminated by local officials. Cox, the party chair, tweeted out a video of her comrades standing outside the locked-up downtown building. “Republican poll challengers blocked from entering the TCF Center in Detroit! This is egregious!” she wrote.

Truly egregious was Cox’s dishonesty. At the time of her tweet, several hundred of her party’s poll challengers, attorneys and representatives were already inside the TCF Center monitoring the count. By law, Republicans were allowed to have 134 challengers in the room, one for each tabulation table. In reality, the GOP had far more than that, according to sworn testimony from nonpartisan poll watchers inside the TCF Center. Because of the overflow, election officials ultimately decided to lock down the complex, starting with the glass-encased canvassing room where the tabulation work was being done. This left dozens and dozens of Republicans trapped behind the glass—in addition to the hundreds of others locked outside with Cox. Some began to bang hard on the inside windows others began to film workers handling the ballots, a violation of state law. To protect the workers, TCF officials covered some of the windows with cardboard—a decision Thomas said he was not consulted on, but absolutely agreed with.

“The people outside that room were doing exactly what the law says you would eject people for doing—they were disrupting the election,” Thomas said. “Everyone else in the room—the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the ACLU, the nonpartisans—they all still had a full complement of challengers in the room. And the Republicans, by the way, had far more challengers in the room than they were entitled to.”

What made this behavior all the more confounding, Thomas said, is that the election was conducted more transparently than any he’d ever participated in. Each of the 134 tables had monitors placed at the end, “showing every keystroke that was made,” so that challengers could see exactly what was happening. But he came to realize that none of this mattered. Having dealt with Republican poll challengers for decades, Thomas said, it was clear the people who infiltrated TCF on Wednesday were not adequately trained or there for the right reasons.

“They clearly came in believing there was mass cheating going on in Detroit and they were on a mission to catch it.”

Chris Thomas

“Unlike the people who were there Monday and Tuesday, these people Wednesday were totally unprepared. They had no idea how the system worked. They had no idea what they were there for,” Thomas said. “Many of them—not all of them, but many of them—they were on a mission. They clearly came in believing there was mass cheating going on in Detroit and they were on a mission to catch it.”

As conspiracy theories proliferated across the right-wing information universe—Sharpie markers disenfranchising Trump voters in Arizona, a marked Biden/Harris van unloading boxes full of ballots in Nevada, suspicious turnout patterns in Wisconsin—Detroit held a special place in the president’s heart.

When Trump addressed the nation from the White House on Thursday night, insisting the election had been “stolen” from him, he returned time and again to alleged misconduct in Michigan’s biggest city. Detroit, he smirked, “I wouldn’t say has the best reputation for election integrity.” He said the city “had hours of unexplained delay” in counting ballots, and when the late batches arrived, “nobody knew where they came from.” He alleged that Republicans had been “denied access to observe any counting in Detroit” and that the windows had been covered because “they didn’t want anybody seeing the counting.”

All of this was a lie. Republicans here—from Ronna Romney McDaniel to Laura Cox to federal and local lawmakers—knew it was a lie. But they didn’t lift a finger in protest as the president disparaged Michigan and subverted America’s democratic norms. Why?

In the days following Trump’s shameful address to the nation, two realities became inescapable to Michigan’s GOP elite. First, there was zero evidence to substantiate widespread voter fraud. Second, they could not afford to admit it publicly.

McDaniel was a case in point. Born into Michigan royalty—granddaughter of the beloved former governor, George Romney, and niece of former presidential nominee Mitt Romney—she knows the state’s politics as well as anyone. Working for her uncle’s campaign here, and then as a national committeewoman and state party chair, McDaniel earned respect for her canny, studied approach. She spun and exaggerated and played the game, but she was generally viewed as being above board.

That changed after Trump’s 2016 victory. Tapped by the president-elect to take over the Republican National Committee—on the not-so-subtle condition that she remove “Romney” from her professional name—McDaniel morphed into an archetype of the Trump-era GOP sycophant. There was no lie too outlandish to parrot, no behavior too unbecoming to justify, no abuse of power too flagrant to enable. Longtime friends worried that McDaniel wasn’t merely humiliating herself publicly she seemed to be changing in private. She was no longer coolly detached from the passions of politics. If anything, she was turning into a true MAGA believer.

There was some relief, then, when in recent weeks McDaniel told multiple confidants that she doubted there was any scalable voter fraud in Michigan. Nevertheless, McDaniel told friends and fellow Republicans that she needed to stay the course with Trump and his legal team. This wasn’t about indulging him, she said, but rather about demonstrating a willingness to fight—even when the fight couldn’t be won.

If this sounds illogical, McDaniel’s thinking is actually quite linear. The RNC will vote in January on the position of chair. She is anxious to keep her job. It’s bad enough that despite an enormous investment of time and resources in Michigan, McDaniel was unable to deliver her home state for the president. If that might prove survivable, what would end McDaniel’s bid instantaneously is abandoning the flailing president in the final, desperate moments of his reelection campaign. No matter how obvious the outcome—to McDaniel, to the 168 members of the RNC, maybe even to Trump himself—any indication of surrender would be unforgivable.

This is why McDaniel has sanctioned her employees, beginning with top spokesperson Liz Harrington, to spread countless demonstrable falsehoods in the weeks since Election Day. It’s why the RNC, on McDaniel’s watch, tweeted out a video clip of disgraced lawyer Sidney Powell claiming Trump “won in a landslide” (when he lost by more than 6 million votes nationally) and alleging a global conspiracy to rig the election against him. It’s why McDaniel felt comfortable throwing under the bus a highly respected local Republican clerk in her own backyard, the Detroit suburb of Oakland County, for a human error that was rectified with transparency from start to finish. (The clerk, Tina Barton, called McDaniel’s insinuations of fraud “categorically false.”)

Honesty and decency have not been hallmarks of Republicanism during Trump’s presidency. They certainly are not priorities now. With Trump entering the anguished twilight of his presidency, all that appears to matter for someone like McDaniel—or Cox, the state party chair, who faces an upcoming election of her own—is unconditional fidelity to the president.

“The unfortunate reality within the party today is that Trump retains a hold that is forcing party leaders to continue down the path of executing his fantasy of overturning the outcome—at their own expense,” said Jason Cabel Roe, a Michigan-based GOP strategist who once worked as a vendor for McDaniel, and whose family goes back generations with hers. “Frankly, continuing to humor him merely excuses his role in this. The election wasn’t stolen, he blew it. Up until the final two weeks, he seemingly did everything possible to lose. Given how close it was, there is no one to blame but Trump.”

“Principled conservatives who respect the rule of law and speak out suddenly find themselves outcasts in a party that is no longer about conservativism but Trumpism.”

Jason Cabel Roe

Roe added, “But if they want a future within the party, it is required of them to demonstrate continued fealty. Principled conservatives who respect the rule of law and speak out suddenly find themselves outcasts in a party that is no longer about conservativism but Trumpism. Just ask once-conservative heroes like Jeff Flake, Justin Amash and Mark Sanford.”

This same principle applies to Chatfield and Shirkey, the state legislative leaders who were summoned to Washington last week for a meeting with Trump. Under normal circumstances, nobody would begrudge anyone a meeting with the president. But the circumstances surrounding the Michigan GOP leadership’s secret huddle with Trump were anything but normal.

Just days earlier, a meeting of the Wayne County canvassing board had devolved into pandemonium after the two GOP members initially refused to certify the county’s results. There were valid concerns about some inconsistencies in the balancing of Detroit’s poll books and yet, those inconsistencies were minimal relative to the 2016 election, when Trump won by a margin 15 times smaller—and when the board voted unanimously to certify the result. Monica Palmer, one of the GOP canvassers, caused an uproar when she offered to certify the rest of Wayne County—precincts like Livonia—without certifying Detroit. (Livonia, which is 95 percent white, had more poll-book irregularities than Detroit, which is 80 percent Black.)

Tweeting out siren emojis, Jenna Ellis, the attorney for Trump’s campaign, announced: “BREAKING: This evening, the county board of canvassers in Wayne County, MI refused to certify the election results. If the state board follows suit, the Republican state legislator will select the electors. Huge win for @realDonaldTrump.”

This proved wrong on two counts. First, the Wayne board—after a heated period of comments from the public—reversed course the same night and voted unanimously to certify the results after Democrats agreed to an audit of the county’s numerical inconsistencies. Second, the notion that legislators would under any circumstance be free to send their own partisans to the Electoral College had no basis in fact. Under Michigan statute, the only electors eligible to represent Michigan are those who will vote for the winner of the popular vote. There is no discretion for anyone—the governor, leaders of the legislature, canvassers at the county or state level—to do anything but follow the law.


Michigan Bureau of Elections plans for ‘most comprehensive post-election audits in state history’

The Michigan Bureau of Elections has released preliminary plans for what it is calling “the most comprehensive post-election audits of any election in state history.”

The audits will include a statewide risk-limiting audit, a complete zero-margin risk-limiting audit in Antrim County, and procedural audits in more than 200 jurisdictions statewide, including absentee ballot counting boards, according to the Bureau.

“I am a longstanding proponent of post-election audits to review election procedure and affirm public confidence in our elections,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in a news release Wednesday. “By conducting the most comprehensive set of audits in our state’s history, the Bureau of Elections and Michigan’s more than 1,600 local election clerks are demonstrating the integrity of our election.”

The Bureau published the following list of precincts and absentee ballot counting boards that it says will undergo procedural audits conducted by either counties or the state:

Michigan Board of State Canvassers certifies Nov. 3 General Election results

Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers voted Nov. 23 to certify the Nov. 3, 2020 General Election results.

The vote was 3-0 with one Republican board member abstaining during an hourslong meeting on Monday.

With all 83 counties having already voted to certify their results, the Board of State Canvassers had what was called a “ministerial” duty to certify the results at the state level. In fact, state law requires the Board of Canvassers to do such within 40 days after the election.

The vote to certify Michigan’s election results officially awards the state’s 16 electoral votes to Joe Biden in the presidential election.

The meeting started shorty after 1 p.m. Board member Julie Matuzak (D) motioned for the election to be certified, but Board member Aaron Van Langevelde (R) said he thought public comment was necessary before that could be done.

Matuzak, Van Langevelde and Chair Jeannette Bradshaw (D) ended up voting to certify the results after hours of public comment. The vote came down just after 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Board member Norman D. Shinkle (R) abstained from voting after questioning the balance of votes in certain precincts, specifically in Detroit.

Evidence? Hearsay? Voter fraud claims in affidavits, explained

While no hard evidence has been discovered to support widespread voter fraud claims in the 2020 election, plenty of people have signed their name to sworn testimony.

Since the November election was called for Joe Biden, President Trump and his legal team have been filing countless lawsuits alleging wild scenarios of voter fraud and corruption -- basically using sworn affidavits as their main source of evidence. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has targeted Detroit in recent weeks, despite there being no evidence of fraud in the city.


Trump campaign drops lawsuit challenging Michigan voting results

Trump campaign holds news conference in DC

President Trump's reelection campaign said Thursday that it is dropping a lawsuit challenging voting results in Michigan, which show Democrat Joe Biden narrowly carrying the battleground state.

“This morning we are withdrawing our lawsuit in Michigan," Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, said in a statement.

Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, said the decision to rescind the lawsuit is the "direct result of achieving the relief we sought: to stop the election in Wayne County from being prematurely certified before residents can be assured that every legal vote has been counted and every illegal vote has not been counted."

The Trump campaign's lawsuit had attempted to stop Wayne County, Michigan's most populous county and includes Detroit, from certifying its election results, alleging that thousands of invalid ballots were counted by election workers.

On Tuesday, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers -- in an abrupt about-face -- unanimously certified election results that showed Biden beating Trump, hours after two Republicans blocked formal approval of the votes cast.

The two Republicans, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, later claimed in signed affidavits they only voted to certify the results after “hours of sustained pressure" and after getting promises that their concerns about the election would be investigated.

A person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press that Trump reached out to Palmer and Hartmann on Tuesday evening after the revised vote to express gratitude for their support.

“We deserve better — but more importantly, the American people deserve better — than to be forced to accept an outcome achieved through intimidation, deception, and threats of violence,” they said in a statement Wednesday night. “Wayne County voters need to have full confidence in this process."

State officials said the certification of the Detroit-area vote will stand.

Trump lost Michigan by about 155,000 votes, according to unofficial results still being certified by county boards of canvassers. There is no evidence or proof of widespread election fraud.

Federal and state officials from both parties have declared the 2020 election safe and secure. But Trump and his allies have spent two weeks raising false claims of fraud and refusing to concede to President-elect Joe Biden.


Trump slams Michigan, Nevada for expanding voting by mail, but drops funding threat

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Wednesday blasted plans to expand voting by mail in Michigan and Nevada and briefly threatened to withhold federal funding for the states, but dropped the warning after an avalanche of criticism from Democrats.

Trump, who has repeatedly expressed his opposition to mail-in voting, said the expansion in Michigan and Nevada - two states that could be pivotal in his Nov. 3 re-election bid - could lead to voter fraud.

Numerous studies have found little evidence of voter fraud connected to voting by mail. States have broad authority to set their own rules for voting.

Many states have pushed to expand vote-by-mail options as a safer alternative in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, sparking a growing partisan fight with Trump and his Republican allies.

“This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump also threatened Nevada’s federal funding, saying the state’s move to expand voting by mail created “a great Voter Fraud scenario.”

Trump later walked back the threats on the unspecified funds, telling reporters at the White House “I don’t think it’s going to be necessary.” But he kept up his criticism of voting by mail as “a very dangerous thing.”

Democrats say mail-in voting is necessary to counter health risks from the coronavirus by helping to prevent crowds at polling places. Republicans say it is more susceptible to fraud since voters do not have to appear in person at a polling place.

Past studies by election researchers have shown neither party has an advantage in states with a history of mail balloting and where officials automatically mail ballots to all registered voters.

In Michigan, Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said on Tuesday that all 7.7 million voters would receive absentee ballot applications before the Aug. 4 state primaries and the November general election so no one “has to choose between their health and their right to vote.”

Nevada, where the state official responsible for elections is a Republican, has made its June 9 state primaries an all-mail election and sent absentee ballots to registered voters.

Benson said on Twitter that Republican counterparts in Georgia, Iowa, Nebraska and West Virginia also were sending absentee ballot applications to voters.

“Every Michigan registered voter has a right to vote by mail. I have the authority & responsibility to make sure that they know how to exercise this right,” she wrote.

Nevada Democrats, who have sued to try to force Republican officials to open more in-person polling places and give voters more options, said Trump’s tweets were designed to discourage voter turnout.

“The president’s tweet is just another tactic in the GOP’s handbook of voter suppression,” Nevada State Democratic Party spokeswoman Molly Forgey said.

Republicans blocked a move by Wisconsin’s Democratic governor to make last month’s primary an all-mail election amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Reporting by John Whitesides Additional reporting by Lisa Lambert and Jeff Mason Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Shumaker