Michigan Republican legislative leaders were not happy on Friday when they learned the Board of Elections (BOE) ordered county clerks to delete election-related data from government computers.
On December 1, the BOE, which is under the auspices of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), sent a memo to all clerks about recounts and the “release of voting equipment.”
One section, titled, “E-Pollbook laptops and flash drives,” read:
The EPB software and associated files must be deleted from all devices by the seventh calendar day following the final canvass and certification of the election (November 30, 2020) unless a petition for recount has been filed and the recount has not been completed, a post-election audit is planned but has not yet been completed, or the deletion of the data has been stayed by an order of the court or the Secretary of State.
That raised the ire of state Rep. Matt Hall (R) and state Sen. Ed McBroom (R), chairmen of their respective oversight committees, who indicated the memo violated an order by House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R) and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) for election data to be preserved.
Chatfield and Shirkey issued a directive on November 6 “which served as notice of the Michigan Legislature’s plans to conduct an inquiry into the general election,” a release from Hall said.
“Because of that inquiry, Detroit city clerk and BOE offices were directed to preserve certain materials, including relevant electronic information. The inquiry also demands all surveillance video recordings that were taken at the TCF Center in Detroit from Nov. 3-5 be kept,” it continued.
“Our work is about restoring confidence in our elections process. We are making sure that we have access to relevant and needed information as the Legislature performs its inquiry into what happened and that the information hasn’t been deleted in the face of that inquiry and litigation that is still out there,” Hall said.
“It is concerning this memo went out after a letter was delivered asking these entities to preserve evidence. As a result, we want an assurance that this information is being preserved.”
Hall and McBroom said they are requesting “immediate clarity” to ensure the election data is being preserved in accordance with the directive from Chatfield and Shirkey.
Both oversight committees held lengthy hearings this week and took testimony from election workers and observers who claimed laws, rules, and procedures were violated during the counting process at the TCF Center in Detroit.