Letters to Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson re: illegal deletions of voter records

The two letters below from PIME supporter Louis Avallone, document discoveries of duplicate voters and illegally deleted voter histories in Michigan’s Qualified Voter File (QVF), the state’s central database of all registered voters and the official file for the conduct of all elections held in the state.

The Dec. 11, 2021, letter documents the duplicate voting that came to light after Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office restored illegally and inadvisably deleted voter histories at Avallone’s request and with the intercession of Mich. Sen. Ruth Johnson’s office.

The Nov. 1, 2021, letter below to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Jonathan Brater, Michigan Bureau of Elections Director, documents Avallone’s findings of illegally and inadvisably deleted voter histories in the QVF.

The QVF is a distributed database that ties Michigan’s 1,520 cities and townships to a statewide voter registration file maintained in Lansing (Chapter 2 Voter Registration – State of Michigan),

Louis Avallone

11Dec2021

Re: Thanks for Restoring QVF Voting Records, New Double Voting Evidence in Corrected QVF Records

Honorable Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson,

Michigan Bureau of Elections Director Jonathan Brater,

Dear Secretary Benson, and Director Brater,

FIRST, A THANK YOU IS IN ORDER.

I appreciate your action to correct the presumed QVF programming error resulting in the unlawful deletion of voting history records from past FOIA QVF datasets. Using the dataset I recently received, created 01Dec2021, I was able to verify that my wife’s voting history record was restored. This is evident through a text search of her currently assigned voter ID (159349091) within the most recent FOIA QVF voter registration and voting history files: EntireStateVoters.csv and EntireStateVoterHistory.csv, respectively. Most of her voting history records were not present in the datasets created 29Feb2020 thru at least 01Jan2021.

01Dec2021 QVF dataset:

29Feb2020, 01Jan2021 QVF datasets:

The following graph outlines the broader impact to all voting history records reported in successive FOIA QVF datasets, using the 08Nov2016 election data as an example. The nearly ¾ million voter history records for this election, suppressed in FOIA QVF datasets for most of the past two years, seem to have been restored in the latest dataset created 01Dec2021.

The following graphs for the 2012 and 2018 November elections exhibit the same trends:

Based on communication from Senator Ruth Johnson’s office, I understand your offices coordinated to remedy the issue. Again, Thank You.

ALONG THE SAME LINES, I URGE YOU TO RE-IMPLEMENT ADDITIONAL QVF IMPROVEMENTS.

The graph below provides a nearly 20-year view of voting history data reported in FOIA QVF datasets.

One might notice FOIA QVF datasets from the no-so-distant past retained complete voting history records, as identified above as the ‘DESIRABLE’ region. Since early 2017, the QVF record retention/reporting strategy seems to have been altered to provide only the voting history records for registered voters at the time the FOIA QVF dataset was created. This method makes it nearly impossible to obtain a FOIA QVF dataset with complete voting history records for all participants in any election. In fact, the data show the (lawful, but undesirable) yearly removal of roughly 50,000 to 100,000 voting history records for an election via voter attrition due to death or a move out of state.

Although the 03Nov2020 election data is not included on the prior graphs, it exhibits the same behavior: Voter history records are removed upon registration cancellations.

As you have discretionary authority over QVF management and improvements, I urge you to consider preserving and disclosing voting history records in the manner similar to 01Sep2016 and prior FOIA datasets. The early 2017 change that discontinued this practice may have been unintentional and as of yet unrecognized. Hence, I am raising this concern.

DOUBLE-VOTING EVIDENCE IN THE CORRECTED QVF VOTING HISTORY RECORDS

As previously mentioned, I have now reviewed two FOIA QVF datasets created after the 03Nov2020 election. The first is dated 01Jan2021, and the second is dated 01Dec2021. In addition to tracking the total number of voting history records in these files, I searched for indications of multiple ballots attributed to the same voter ID in the 03Nov2020 election. In the dataset from 01Jan2021 there was no indication of multiple ballots cast in the 03Nov2020 election. However, the latter dataset created on 01Dec2021 (i.e., the one with voting history records restored), contained 26 pairs of ‘duplicate’ ballot cast records.

The complete list of these voting history record pairs can be found in the attached file HistoryDup20211201.csv – which includes records from elections as far back as 2012. Interestingly, every one of these data pairs include one record for an absentee ballot, and another for an ‘election day’ ballot. In other words, the indicated voter is credited with submitting absentee and ‘in-person’ ballots that are both included in the final election results. The HistoryDup20211201.csv file includes individual voting records from the FOIA obtained voting history file, to which the line number of the record in the original voting history file is added to the data and placed in the first column. The first five ‘duplicate’ ballot cast pairs for the 03Nov2020 election in the file HistoryDup20211201.csv, are shown below.

Confirmation linux command line searches for the first voter ID in the above list confirm the ‘duplicate’ voting history records for the 03Nov2020 elections are only found in the FOIA QVF dataset from 01Dec2021 and not in the dataset from 01Jan2021. Curiously, in many cases these particular voters had registration records with updates that occurred prior to the mid-October 2018 date which had seemed to be the ‘cut-off’ threshold for voters with the recently restored voting history records.

The Michigan secretary of state website indicates that 5.56 million ballots were cast at the 03Nov2020 election. The 01Jan2021 FOIA QVF dataset contains only 5.48 million voting history records, and the 01Dec2021 dataset has slightly fewer at 5.46 million for the same election. As the recently restored data has surfaced evidence of possible double-voting, it is conceivable thatthe nearly 100,000 additional lawfully yet in-advisably removed voting history records might yield similar findings upon their restoration.

This possibility highlights the critical need to re-establish the preservation of all voting history records in FOIA QVF datasets, not just those of current registrants.

AGAIN, PLEASE CONFIRM THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE CONCERN.

Some or all voting history records documenting double-voting may be the result of clerical and/or other technical errors. However, they also appear to represent evidence of election law violationsenshrined in the official voting record. Fortunately, the corresponding physical records still exist for the 03Nov2020 (and more recent) elections. Otherwise, the ability to further investigate and confirm the presence of the possible crimes beyond just these digital records could have been rendered impossible.

MY LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY

I lack a formal legal background, but my layman review of election law statutes (below) suggest I am obligated to report this evidence of potential offenses.

MCL 168.509o(1) recognizes the QVF as the official voting record.

MCL 168.509o(1):

The secretary of state shall direct and supervise the establishment and maintenance of a statewide qualified voter file. The secretary of state shall establish the technology to implement the qualified voter file. The qualified voter file is the official file for the conduct of all elections held in this state…”

MCL 168.932 outlines that submitting or attempting to submit more than one ballot, or submitting or attempting to submit a ballot in another name is punishable as a felony.

MCL 168.932a:

A person who does any of the following is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both:

(a) A person shall not, at an election, falsely impersonate another person, or vote or attempt to vote under the name of another person, or induce or attempt to induce a person to impersonate another person or to vote or attempt to vote under the name of another person.

(b) A person shall not assume a false or fictitious name to vote or to offer to vote by that name, enter or cause to be entered upon the registration book in a voting precinct a false or fictitious name, or induce or attempt to induce another person to assume a false or fictitious name in order to vote, by that name, vote, or offer to or enter or cause to be entered upon the registration book of a voting precinct, a false or fictitious name.

(c) A person who is not a qualified and registered elector shall not willfully offer to vote or attempt to vote at an election held in this state. A person shall not aid or counsel a person who is not a qualified and registered elector to vote or offer to vote at the place where the vote is given during an election.

(d) A qualified and registered elector shall not offer to vote or attempt to vote in a voting precinct in which the elector does not reside, except as otherwise provided in this act. A person shall not procure, aid, or counsel another person to go or come into a township, ward, or voting precinct for the purpose of voting at an election, knowing that the person is not qualified or registered to vote in that township, ward, or voting precinct.

(e) A person shall not offer to vote or attempt to vote more than once at the same election either in the same or in another voting precinct. A person shall not give 2 or more votes folded together.

MCL 168.680 and MCL 169.939 obligate all ‘oathed’ election inspector serving at the 03Nov2020 election to report all punishable election violations they have “reason to believe”were committed. I could find no statute text that suggests this obligation is restricted to witnessed violations.

MCL 168.680:

Each precinct election inspector shall, before entering upon the discharge of his duties, take and subscribe the following constitutional oath of office, which oath any of the inspectors may administer: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of this state, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of inspector of elections according to the best of my ability….”

MCL 168.939:

It shall be the duty of every inspector of election, knowing, or having reason to believe, that an offense punishable under the provisions of this act has been committed, to give information thereof to the prosecuting attorney without delay, and such prosecuting attorney shall adopt effective measures for the prosecution of all persons believed to be guilty of such offense….”

MCL 168.31(1) requires the Secretary of State to investigate and report election law violations.

MCL 168.31(1):

The secretary of state shall do all of the following:

….

(h) Investigate, or cause to be investigated by local authorities, the administration of election laws, and report violations of the election laws and regulations to the attorney general or prosecuting attorney, or both, for prosecution….”

MCL 940 and MCL 941 obligate law enforcement personnel to pursue credible reports of election law violation.

MCL 168.940:

It is hereby made the duty of every prosecuting attorney, whenever he shall receive credible information that any such offense has been committed, to cause the same to be prosecuted…”

MCL 168.941:

It is hereby made the duty of any police, sheriff or other peace officer, present and having knowledge of any violation of any of the provisions of this act, to forthwith institute criminal proceedings for the punishment of such offender….”

Although I believe I have provided all the information necessary to verify and/or duplicate my findings of potential election law violations, I will provide any additional relevant information at your request. The information in the most recent 01Dec2021 FOIA QVF dataset provides evidence offelonious double-voting using the credentials of legitimate voters, but alone does not suggest orassign responsibility for the offense(s). Due to the serious nature of this concern, please confirm this notice is received, reviewed, and determined to be credible and provided in good faith. Please also indicate if I have satisfied my duty to report these possible examples of “punishable” election law violations for which a “reason to believe” is objectively established. A lack of response will indicate I have not yet fulfilled my obligation to provide the information to a prosecuting attorney.

Respectfully,

Louis Avallone

Milford, Michigan

Cc:

Honorable Senator Ruth Johnson, Senate Election Committee Chair, former Secretary of State

Honorable Ann Bollin, House Election and Ethics Committee Chair

Honorable Senator Jim Runstead

Honorable Representative Matt Maddock

Holly Brandt, Milford Township Clerk

Patrice Johnson, Chair, Pure Integrity for Michigan Elections

Joanne Bakale, Election Integrity Force and FundPS:

The body of this email was also submitted directly to the site https://contactsos.michigan.gov/new without the attached files.  After I submitted the message, the website interface indicated the email was received, and I later found a confirmation Email ID:  #ELE00706093 in my inbox.

Letter #1: Nov. 1, 2021:

Dear Secretary Benson and Director Jonathan Brater,

I believe a serious software programming error was introduced into the QVF in late 2019 or early 2020. The result of this error is causing voting history records of a qualified voter to be prematurely and inappropriately deleted from the QVF. I have explained the issue to the clerk of my community (Milford), and she suggested I pass the information along to you.

THE KEY POINTS ARE:

  • Voter history data has been, and continues to be inappropriately removed from the QVF, or is not being included in FOIA QVF extract requests.
  • The (presumed) QVF software error manifests when a voter’s registration date changes as the result of a registration record update (i.e. change of address).
  • When a voter’s registration date changes, the complete voting history from past elections for that voter is (inappropriately) reset/deleted, Voting history data is (appropriately) retained for subsequent elections.
  • The inappropriate deletion of voting history data has been observed for voter registration records with dates as early as 2018-10-11.
  • The deletion of voting history data did not manifest in FOIA QVF extracts dated 2019-10-01 or earlier.
  • The inappropriate deletion of voting history data is evident in FOIA QVF extracts dated 2020-02-29 thru 2021-01-01, with a reasonable expectation that later releases are similarly affected.
  • A conservative estimate of ½ million voting history records were deleted as of 2021-01-01.
  • Relevant statutes mandate preservation of a (minimum) 5-year voting history in the QVFfor “qualified voters”.

PLEASE CONFIRM THE NATURE AND SERIOUSNESS OF THE CONCERN

In submitting this letter, I am hereby requesting you confirm the presence and nature of the QVF programming errors. Do the errors manifest such that the QVF no longer retains the five-year voting history of all qualified voters, or alternatively, that the required voting history data is still present in the QVF but is being omitted (incorrectly) from voter/history files obtained via FOIA requests?

Once the issue has been properly investigated, please provide an estimate as to when corrections to the QVF programming will be implemented, and whether or not the ‘deleted’ voting history data (in its entirety) will be restored in the QVF. Additionally, please indicate once the data is properly restored, when it will it be available to the public?

Due to the serious nature of this problem, I would appreciate an acknowledgment that this information has been received and is recognized as worthy of further investigation.

Respectfully,

Louis Avallone

Cc:

Honorable Senator Ruth Johnson, former Secretary of State

Honorable Senator Jim Runstead

Honorable Representative Matt Maddock

Holly Brandt, Milford Township Clerk

Patrice Johnson, Chair, Pure Integrity for Michigan Elections

Joanne Bakale, Election Integrity Force”

My state representative and others with interest in this issue are copied in the distribution.  Senator Ruth Johnson is included as well.  During her tenure as the former Secretary of State, she was responsible for the creation and maintenance of many of the voting history records that are now being inappropriately deleted.  Her knowledge of the inner workings of the QVF may be of assistance in identifying how such an error may have been unintentionally introduced into the system, and how to implement corrections.

The body of this email was also submitted directly to the site https://contactsos.michigan.gov/new without the attached file.  After I submitted the message, the website interface indicated:

Respectfully,

Louis Avallone

Milford, Michigan

Published by pureintegrityformichiganelections

Dedicated to restoring election integrity in Michigan.

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