We all lose without confidence in our elections

In May, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced she would be mailing absentee ballot applications to each of the state’s registered voters. This created quite a stir, and concerns grew about the increased potential for voter fraud in this year’s election.

Elections are a critical part of our government on every level, and folks need to be able to trust the results — whether their candidate wins or loses.

In the weeks following the election, and still to this day, people contact me day and night, in Lansing and at home, about their skepticism following the 2020 presidential election. The widespread accusations, ranging from human errors to software glitches to outright fraud and deception, at the very least deserve our attention and a diligent look by state officials.

I admire the efforts of people who took the time to reach out to me, and I agree that something doesn’t pass the smell test. The integrity of our elections should be a priority for every Michigander — and as an elected official, I have a duty to respond to these concerns raised by folks back home in my district.

The Senate and House Oversight committees have been holding hearings to investigate claims of errors or fraud that may have affected the election results. One of the committee’s first actions was to subpoena records from the Michigan secretary of state. I believe it is our duty as legislators to provide a forum to review policies and procedures regarding our elections so we can reveal the truth, dispel myths, propose potential changes in the law and, most importantly, restore people’s confidence in our elections.

The committee will continue to meet to provide greater transparency and accountability.

I have also joined lawmakers from both the state Senate and House in requesting a full, independent forensic audit of the 2020 election results. Secretary Benson has also publicly stated that she intends to conduct several audits — I look forward to reviewing those findings as well.

To those who have contacted me in my office or on my cell phone, or who ran into me in person: I want to thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention. My colleagues and I in the Legislature serve as the voice of the people, and I promise you that I have taken these concerns to Lansing and will continue doing so.

I grew up in this community. I live, work and invest here. My family lives here. I share the same values as many of you and consider many of you to be friends. I also join many of you in wishing the reported outcome of the recent election were different, and I share the same worries about the future.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime situation. To those who have reached out to me, rest assured that my colleagues and I are doing everything we can to uncover the truth about this election — unfortunately, something of this magnitude takes time.

Sen. Rick Outman represents the 33rd state Senate District, which includes the counties of Clare, Gratiot, Isabella, Mecosta and Montcalm.