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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher February 1, 2021

No proof that voting system in Michigan was designed to ‘create systemic fraud’

If Your Time is short

  • The report cited is from a firm that provided analyses and affidavits for lawsuits brought by Trump allies, falsely alleging voter fraud and election irregularities. 

  • Under oath, Michigan’s election director stated that the report “ascribes motives of fraud and obfuscation to processes that are easily explained as routine election procedures or error corrections.”

  • An official hand audit of Antrim County’s votes confirmed that Trump won the county, with only slight changes in the vote totals that had already been certified.

Weeks after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump to win the 2020 presidential election, meritless allegations of voter fraud persisted.

One widely shared on Facebook came from on a website that has published false claims before. Dated Dec. 15, it features the headline "Judge Releases Dominion Audit Report: System 'Designed' to 'Create Systemic Fraud'," and goes on to say that the report "covers the forensic audit of Dominion's machines in Michigan’s Antrim County." 

The article was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The report cited by the article was from a firm that provided analyses and affidavits for lawsuits brought by Trump allies, falsely alleging voter fraud and election irregularities. It was discredited by Michigan election officials and the former head of certification at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency that certified the voting system used in Antrim County.

An official hand audit performed by a bipartisan group of election officials confirmed what Antrim County had already certified, that Trump had won the county, even as he lost Michigan to Biden.

Article from website identified as sharing fake news

The Dec. 15 article about Antrim County, located northeast of Traverse City in northern Michigan, was posted on Neon Nettle, which has been identified as a fake news website by Columbia Journalism Review and the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University.

Scrutiny of Antrim County’s ballots arose from an error in the reporting of unofficial results on election night, which initially showed voters in the heavily Republican county casting more votes for Biden than for Trump. State and county officials say the reporting error, which was corrected soon after the election, was the result of human error by the Republican county clerk, before the election. But Trump allies seized on the error, and other alleged irregularities, in their fruitless quest for evidence of election rigging through equipment made by Dominion Voting Systems.

Report discredited

The article we’re checking refers to a "bombshell report" on the Dominion machines used in Antrim County. The Dec. 13 document was signed by cybersecurity analyst Russell James Ramsland Jr. of Allied Security Operations Group. 

"We conclude that the Dominion Voting System is intentionally and purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results," reads the report, which was filed as part of a lawsuit challenging the election.

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In a declaration made under oath in response to the lawsuit, Michigan Bureau of Elections Director Jonathan Brater said the report "makes a series of unsupported conclusions, ascribes motives of fraud and obfuscation to processes that are easily explained as routine election procedures or error corrections, and suggests without explanation that elements of election software not used in Michigan are somehow responsible for tabulation or reporting."

Ryan Macias, the former head of voting system testing and certification at the Election Assistance Commission, said, "The majority of the findings are false and misleading due to the fact that the entities reviewing the system lack knowledge and expertise in election technology.

A Dec. 17 hand audit of the Antrim County results done by a bipartisan group of election officials confirmed the previously certified outcome. In the hand count, Trump had 9,759, up 11 from the certified results; and Biden had 5,959, down one vote.

The audit "proved again that the disinformation campaign surrounding Antrim’s presidential election and its use of Dominion vote-tabulation machines was completely meritless," Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, said in a statement.

"Today’s full audit in Antrim County confirmed the truth and affirmed the facts: Dominion’s voting machines accurately tabulated the votes cast for president in Antrim County," Benson said. 

Our ruling

An article widely shared on Facebook said an "audit report" found that a voting system used in Michigan in the 2020 presidential election was designed to "create systemic fraud."

The firm that made the fraud allegation, about voting in one Michigan county, provided this and other analyses and affidavits for lawsuits brought by Trump allies, falsely alleging voter fraud and election irregularities. 

Michigan’s election director stated under oath that the report "ascribes motives of fraud and obfuscation to processes that are easily explained as routine election procedures or error corrections." And an official hand audit of the county’s votes confirmed that Trump won the county, with only slight changes in the vote totals that had already been certified.

We rate the statement False.

Our Sources

Neon Nettle, "Judge Releases Dominion Audit Report: System 'Designed' to 'Create Systemic Fraud,’" Dec. 15, 2020

FactCheck.org, "Audit in Michigan County Refutes Dominion Conspiracy Theory," Dec. 18, 2020 

PolitiFact, "Trump tweet wrongly suggests there were defects with Michigan voting machines," Dec. 15, 2020

Nieman Lab, "Has Facebook’s algorithm change hurt hyperpartisan sites? According to this data, nope," March 30, 2018

Michigan Secretary of State, "Misinformation campaign concerning Antrim County expected to continue Election News," Dec. 8, 2020

Michigan.gov, statement from Michigan secretary of state and attorney general, Dec. 14, 2020

Michigan Secretary of State, statement, Dec. 17, 2020

Allied Security Operations Group, "Antrim Michigan Forensics Report," Dec. 13, 2020

Dominion Voting Systems, news release, updated Jan. 31, 2021

Detroit Free Press, "State, company officials dispute report claiming Antrim County tabulators bungled results," Dec. 14, 2020

Detroit Free Press, "Antrim County hand tally affirms certified election results," Dec. 17, 2020

Columbia Journalism Review, "CJR index of fake-news, clickbait, and hate sites," accessed Jan. 31, 2021

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More by Tom Kertscher

No proof that voting system in Michigan was designed to ‘create systemic fraud’

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