In 2016, Donald Trump won 62% of the vote in Antrim County Michigan, with Hillary Clinton on 32.5%, and the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson on 3.4%:
Trump won by large margins in every precinct, Clinton’s highest relative vote being in Torch Lake Township, where she lost by 489 votes to 324: 1
According to unofficial results released at 4:09 am on 4 November 2020, however, the situation had been dramatically reversed, with Biden winning 7,769 votes, against Trump’s 4,509, and the Libertarian candidate Jorgensen’s 93 (Exhibit 3, Complaint of William Bailey):
While the overall swing would itself would have been hard to understand, with nothing comparable occurring anywhere else in the United States (to my knowledge), the detailed precinct-level results were vastly more anomalous still, with Trump’s vote increasing in five precincts, but collapsing in nine precincts, even into single figures in four of them:
Highly anomalous also were the 23.6% of ballots cast that contained, according to the results, no vote for President of the United States. Again, the figures for individual precincts were more peculiar still, with more than 40% of cast ballots in three precincts failing to contain a vote for President, while in five precincts, more than 99% of cast ballots contained a Presidential vote:
(VP/V = Votes for President/Votes cast)
Reaction to the unofficial results
When asked whether the results had raised any red flags for her, the Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy said on the one hand that they had discussed the matter several times, but on the other that they had not given it a second thought:
One who questioned the accuracy of the results was Triston Cole, a Republican State Representative. The support for the Republican candidate for Congress, Jack Bergman, had apparently collapsed in Chestonia Township, where Cole voted, to only two votes (Exhibit 3, Bailey complaint):
Cole was certain that six votes had been cast for Bergman just from his own family:
Another questioning the accuracy of the results was William Bailey, the plaintiff in Bailey v Antrim County. He raised the issue with an election official in Helena Township on the morning of 4 November, who in turn asked Sheryl Guy to review the results:
Later that morning, Antrim County released a statement on Facebook to the effect that they had become aware of ‘apparently skewed results’, were reviewing them, and consulting with Election Source, the company which ‘provides the voting software and hardware’ 2 to determine what action needed to be taken:
5th November: 1st revision of the results
The following day, at 4:42pm, Antrim County released revised results (Exhibit 4, Bailey complaint):
Pages 1 and 2 of the 5 November results were missing from the Antrim County web-site at the time of the Bailey complaint (which was lodged on 23 November), and were thus not included in Exhibit 4 (Bailey complaint):
Page 1 of the 3 November results (Bailey complaint, Exhibit 3) stated that the results were unofficial:
while page 1 of the 21 November 2nd revision, still available on the Antrim County web-site, state that they are the official results:
One possible explanation of the absence of pages 1 and 2 from the 5 November results at the time they were accessed by the plaintiff, is that they had been stated to be the Official results when first released, but had either already been succeeded by the Official results of 21 November, or were by then expected to be so succeeded.
An unexplained inconsistency
In a further Facebook statement, dated the next day, 6 November, Antrim County announced that the Board of Canvassers ‘have worked diligently over the last few days to review and certify Official results [my emphasis]’:
If the work had begun on Wednesday morning and been completed by Thursday afternoon, it could hardly be said to have taken a ‘few days’. It will be noted that the Facebook date is 7 November. The Edit History gives the time as 3:30 am:
I am in the UK, and we are 5 hours ahead of Michigan, so this may correspond to 10.30 pm local time, 6th November.
According to a report in the Antrim Review, Sheryl Guy said that they had spent ‘three very long days’ correcting the results, eventually obtaining ‘correct numbers’ at 10pm on Friday (6 November), which ‘the [Antrim County] Board of Canvassers was able to certify:
Moreover, in her evidence to the Michigan Joint House/Senate Oversight Committee on 19 November, Sheryl Guy, in answers to questions from Representative Beau LaFave, explained that they had spent ‘days and hours’ manually entering data from tape printed out of tabulators (but into the same Election Night Results software as previously):
[3:16:26; at 4:23:38 pm]
LaFave: ‘.. what did you do to make sure that what you reported now is accurate?
Guy: ‘Sir, we went through every precinct tape tabulator tape from every total of the election and we manually entered it.’
LaFave: ‘And when you say you entered it, what did you enter it into, a Google document, a calculator, a white board..?’
Guy: ‘To the Election Night Results program provided to us.’
LaFave: ‘And who provides that?’
Guy: ‘Election Source provides that to us and we put it in our dummy computer which is not connected to any internet or any network, it’s a standalone and it is only used for elections. So we hand.. we took that tape and we had one Read and we had one Enter and we did all of those townships like that very time consuming, as I said, they are about, they can be 30 to 50 feet long.’
LaFave: ‘And so you didn’t… What you did, you took the tape then, you didn’t actually take the physical ballots and you know..’
Guy: ‘No, they are under seal, they are under seal. The tabulator goes to the County Clerk, the local Clerk, and the Board of Canvassers in their envelopes sealed, so I have access only to mine, that comes to the Election Clerk on election night.
LaFave: ‘And so you have nothing but confidence that the results that you published now are the true vote of the people of Antrim County?’
Guy: ‘Correct, we have spent days and hours.. Our Board of Canvassers did certify our election and election certification was sent to the Bureau of Elections.’
Thus Sheryl Guy’s statement, as reported in the Antrim Review, that the semi-manual process took three days, and was completed with certification at 10 pm on Friday 6 November, is supported by the Antrim County Facebook statement at (probably) 10.30 pm 6 November, and by Guy’s testimony to the Senate/House Oversight Committee.
How then could the amended results have been released at 4:42 pm on 5 November, at least according to the time stamp?
There may well be a straightforward answer to this question, but I think it is at least worth asking.
- Data from https://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi:10.7910/DVN/LYWX3D (It may perhaps be helpful to someone to observe that I was able to open the large .csv file with a text editor, but not with spreadsheet software.) ↩
- According to their web-site, Election Source supplies, maintains, and provides ‘coding’ for Dominion voting systems: https://electionsource.com/. ↩