An investigation into the Michigan election by state Republican lawmakers has concluded that there is no evidence of widespread fraud and dismissed the need for an Arizona-style forensic audit of the results.
The news comes amid a broad push by many Republicans – from Donald Trump to state parties – to push unfounded lies about Joe Biden’s victory, often promoting baseless conspiracy theories and evidence-free accusations of fraud.
The Michigan Republican report released on Wednesday followed 28 hours of legislative hearings starring local and national pro-Trump conspiracy theorists such as former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. The report labeled many of their claims “ludicrous” and called on the state Democratic attorney general to open investigations into those who may have profited from making false claims.
The report was authored by the Republican-controlled senate oversight committee and it said it found no evidence of dead voters, no precincts with 100% turnout and no evidence of a Detroit ballot dump that benefited Biden, as GOP activists have claimed occurred.
“There is no evidence presented at this time to prove either significant acts of fraud or that an organized, wide-scale effort to commit fraudulent activity was perpetrated in order to subvert the will of Michigan voters,” the report reads.
“Citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan.”
The report represents a stunning repudiation of the unsubstantiated claims made by the state’s pro-Trump activists and Trump himself in their bid to overturn the critical battleground state’s results. Biden won Michigan by about 154,000 votes, or three percentage points. The tally was upheld by judges appointed by both parties in state and federal court, the bipartisan boards of state canvassers and reviews by election officials.
Still, Trump supporters have been applying intense pressure on state Republican officials to work to overturn the election results, and have censured or promised primary challenges for those who reject their far-fetched claims.
Trump had not responded to the report as of Wednesday afternoon, but in May issued a characteristic threat to his party when he said that Michigan’s senators “should be run out of office” if they haven’t reviewed “the Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020”.
In the report, state senator Ed McBroom took aim at the pro-Trump activists who “who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain”.
“If you are profiting by making false claims, that’s pretty much the definition of fraud,” McBroom said.
The office of Michigan’s attorney general, Dana Nessel, said on Wednesday that it’s still reviewing the report.
Despite that the report rebukes the conspiracy theories, the investigation found “glaring issues that must be addressed” in state election law, and the party is still pushing forward with a package of 39 controversial voting restrictions that it plans to ram through using a constitutional loophole that can bypass the veto of the Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer.
The Democratic state senator Jeff Irwin, who serves on the oversight committee, was the lone vote against the report. He noted that Michigan has paper ballots that confirm the results and praised Republican committee members for being “willing to stand and say that Michigan has free and fair elections”, but he added that the recommendations for new restrictions are unnecessary.
“They are responding to their GOP constituency more than they are offering good policy ideas,” he said.