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Cheboygan County considers 'audit' to review voting machines

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Since mid-April, the Cheboygan County Board of Commissioners has been deliberating a Detroit attorney’s offer to conduct what she calls a “third-party audit” of the county’s Dominion voting machines.

A newly formed “election information subcommittee” is reviewing the legality and details of the  offer from Stefanie Lambert - connected to former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell.

Delta College political science professor Lisa Lawrason said these kinds of audits are part of a “dangerous game” to foster doubt around the election process.

“It’s very concerning,” Lawrason said. “It’s very dire. I really feel like our democracy is on the line here, and I don’t know if everybody understands what’s at stake.”

President of the Michigan League of Women Voters, Christina Schlitt seems to concur. She said the 2020 presidential election was one of the most secure elections, and she doesn’t understand why people keep trying to find something wrong with the process.

“I think the public needs to discount the lies that are happening and pay attention to the truth of the matter,” Schlitt said. “It’s really becoming an issue to battle these perpetuating lies.”

Schlitt referred to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and her statements about the security of the election. The SOS website has a section on “election misinformation and false information,” which calls on voters and elected officials to be “vigilant” against “efforts to confuse” about the election process.

Lawrason said transparency is important for democracy, and audits could bolster the process - as long as they’re done in an ethical, non-partisan way.

Cheboygan County Commissioner Richard Sangster said he does not believe there was any election fraud in the county, but that it’s his role as an elected official to take community concerns seriously.

“What is it that is so interesting (about our consideration of this audit)?” Sangster said. “We, just as a small board, had a question, brought to us by constituents, and now someone wants to think that we’re doing something nefarious.”

According to Sangster, the election information subcommittee was formed in mid-April when constituents expressed their concern because of the attempted audit in Antrim County.

Despite Cheboygan County facing no issues during the presidential election, Sangster said there is no harm in considering an audit.

In response to criticism that is emerging about the unspecified “third-party” of the proposal, Sangster reiterated the words of a constituent.

“(She said), ‘Let's say you're running a business and you think your bookkeeper is embezzling,’” Sangster said. “‘Do you have your bookkeeper pile to compile the data? No, you get an outside opinion.’ And I thought that was a great point.”

The board will continue discussion and potentially reach a decision on Tuesday.

This story was produced as part of the Michigan News Group Internship. A collaboration between WCMU and eight community newspapers. Teresa is based at the Huron Daily Tribune.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corp Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She is covering rural environmental issues, public health and Michigan commerce. Homsi has a bachelor’s from Central Michigan University in environmental studies, journalism and anthropology. During her undergraduate, she was a beat reporter for CMU’s student newspaper Central Michigan Life and interned for the Huron Daily Tribune. She has also interned for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy in the superfund section. *Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms, more info at