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Trump rally draws hundreds to state Capitol lawn

Crowd members recite The Pledge of Allegiance during the rally at the state Capitol on Tuesday. Those gathered want a "forensic audit" of the 2020 election.
Colin Jackson
Michigan Public Radio Network
Crowd members recite The Pledge of Allegiance during the rally at the state Capitol on Tuesday. Those gathered want a "forensic audit" of the 2020 election.

Hundreds of supporters of former Pres. Donald Trump rallied on the state Capitol lawn Tuesday to ask for what they call a “full forensic audit” of the 2020 election.

That would involve taking an extensive statewide look at all levels of the voting system—including every ballot cast, the machines used, and the voter rolls.

The group Election Integrity Force & Fund was behind the event. Executive director Sandy Kiesel said she doesn’t feel like Michigan officials have so far put forth a good faith effort to ensure trust in the 2020 general election results.

“We’ve done partial recounts. We’ve done what they call risk limiting audits, where they pull the few ballots and check them. But they have never looked at all of the different aspects,” Kiesel said.

Michigan has completed over 250 audits of the last year’s election. None of them have found evidence of substantial voter fraud or proof that any results should be overturned.

To that point, Kiesel said the point of the rally wasn’t to declare Trump the rightful winner of the race between him and Pres. Joe Biden.

“The issue is, what does the quality show and can everybody see the same thing? Is it transparent and trusted?” Kiesel asked.

Meanwhile, House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski pointed out that election officials have praised the 2020 election as one of the most secure ever conducted.

“It resulted in the highest voter turnout and a loss for President Trump. That battle has ended. This is about sowing the seeds of discord to overturn the next election,” Lasinski said to reporters outside the capitol as the rally took place behind her.

The Republican-led Senate oversight committee conducted its own investigation into the 2020 election and found “no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud in Michigan’s prosecution of the 2020 election.”

Lasinksi mentioned the real call for accountability should be for her Republican colleagues who tried to offer their own electoral college members in December in place of Democratic-won electors.

“We have had no accountability for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who sent letters to [then] Vice Pres. Pence to overturn the election and to delay the peaceful transfer of power,” Lasinski said.

Despite the GOP-led state legislature passing several election-related bills since November 2020, leadership has been slow to support an audit on the scale called for at the rally.

State Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers) called for a petition drive that would force their hand if it were to cross a 340,047 signature threshold to be taken up for the legislature and passed without the governor’s signature.

“This idea that we keep passing dozens of election integrity bills, well it’s great to take steps in the right direction. But what’s the need for all those election integrity bills unless there was a problem from the last election?” Carra said.

During his speech, he received some heckling from the crowd after bringing up the idea that Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey could be swayed to support revisiting the 2020 election. Crowd members shouted the acronym RINO, standing for “Republican In Name Only,” in response.

“I think that belittling people and speaking from a negative energy is hurting the cause,” Carra said.