Cheboygan residents react to proposed 'audit' at county meeting
Cheboygan County residents said they’re “appalled” and “ashamed” over the county’s ongoing consideration to approve a so-called audit of the county’s voting machines.
Public comment at the June 8 county board meeting went on for nearly an hour and a half, as two dozen county residents commented on a recent request by a Detroit attorney to audit the voting machines.
County officials said the attorney wants to examine a Dominion machine to see if it has a modem, whether it was connected to the internet during the November election and whether it was communicating with foreign countries.
The majority of people at the meeting spoke out against the audit, expressing concern that questioning election results is divisive and threatens the democractic process.
Rob Ross said as a poll worker, he’s ashamed to have to come to another board meeting for a “bogus” issue.
“Now we all stood here and faced that flag,” Ross said. “We talked about liberty and justice, and I always wondered why we didn’t have the word honesty in the (pledge of allegiance). The people who are pushing this nonsense are not being honest.”
Besty Lawrence pleaded with the board to end the consideration. She said the election is over, and it is now time to focus on healing the divided nation.
“If you become a party to this questioning of our electoral process, what becomes of our democracy?” she said. “That’s the question. Yes, (the audit is) illegal, yes, it’s wrong, yes it’s been influenced by outside people. Do what’s in your heart that you know is right for this county and our nation.”
Mary Hodson, a former elementary school teacher in Cheboygan, spoke up at the meeting. She and her husband had taught and knew a number of people in attendance at the meeting, including members of the board.
She said she was appalled to see Cheboygan in the national news for considering this audit.
“(Chairperson John Wallace) said to me, ‘well, we want to touch all sides,’” Hodson said. “That’s baloney. You don’t need to (have) cyber-ninjas touch … our voting machines. They are good, and I trust all the people at the polls because I know most of them.”
Other concerns brought up at the meeting included the cost this audit would have -- both financially and on the county’s reputation.
Some residents said they believe the board should focus on improving the community, and if they’re going to review the election results, they should count the paper ballots instead.
Out of the 24 people who spoke, five were in favor of the audit. They said it would clear up their doubts about the election.
Missy France said she’s questioning the equipment and not the county and township clerks or poll workers.
“I just find it really interesting how everyone is suddenly an expert with our equipment,” France said. “Who the heck knows? Nobody knows. None of us know what’s going on in those machines, but yet we got all these people coming up and telling us the election was fair and the equipment was good.”
The few who spoke in favor of the audit were met with scrutiny by the majority of attendees, resulting in some tension at the meeting.
According to commissioner Steve Warfield, the last board meeting was “flipped,” with most attendees in favor of the audit.
In Cheboygan County, the 2020 election results follow a trend of increasing Republican support that's extended for the past four presidential election cycles.
Commissioners stated that they do not believe there was election fraud in the county, but they’re just doing their “due diligence” to take community concerns seriously.
Warfield said he estimates 50% of the county has doubts about the electoral process, and the board’s goal is to clear them up.
“This is not about changing who sits in the White House -- it’s about ensuring that going forward in 2022, there’s not malfeasance in the background,” Warfield said. “At the end of the day, as several people said today, the foundation of our republic is a fair and honest election.”
The board’s election information subcommittee is currently drafting a letter to the Michigan Secretary of State -- to see if the county has permission to authorize an audit.
During the next meeting on Tuesday, the board will review the drafted letter. Commissioners said they want to “put this to rest” as soon as possible.