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Trump’s former deputy press secretary calls for a clean up of Michigan voter rolls

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Trump’s former deputy press secretary calls for a clean up of Michigan voter rolls

Jun 12, 2024 | 9:25 pm ET
By Anna Liz Nichols
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Trump’s former deputy press secretary call for a clean up of Michigan voter rolls
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Former President Donald Trump’s White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley speaks at a news conference about cleaning up the state’s voter roll on June 12, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

Former President Donald Trump’s White House deputy press secretary, Hogan Gidley, on Wednesday joined Republican lawmakers on the Michigan Capitol lawn to push for cleaning up the state’s voter rolls.

Gidley, who now serves as vice chair of the Center for Election Integrity for the Trump-affiliated America First Policy Institute, talked about concerns conservative groups have that Michigan has more people listed as qualified voters than there are qualified voters, condemning Democratic leadership for weakened election integrity.

“Our goal at the Center for Election Integrity is very simple: Make it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” Gidley said. “People on the political right and left have been complaining about elections in this country for decades … People have been concerned about the validity and the outcome of our elections.”

Gidley spoke before state Rep. Rachelle Smit (R-Martin) and former Secretary of State and current state Sen. Ruth Johnson (R-Holly), who organized the event. Both lawmakers railed against changes to the state’s election laws under the Legislature’s Democratic leadership and called for tighter laws for voting, just as they did at a similar event last week. Reps. Alicia St. Germaine (R-Harrison Twp.) and Gina Johnsen (R-Odessa Twp.) were also at the press conference.

Trump’s former deputy press secretary calls for a clean up of Michigan voter rolls
Sen. Ruth Johnson (R-Holly) speaks at a news conference about cleaning up the state’s voter roll on June 12, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office reports that about 69% of the population eligible to vote was registered to vote in 2020, just over 8 million people. However, Gidley said there’s 27 counties in Michigan with registration rates at or above 100% for eligible registrants.

“This data raises the obvious question which is: Are all the people on the voter rolls here in Michigan, actually eligible to cast ballots and vote? You think the answer is yes? Take into consideration please, tens of millions of people flooding into this country illegally with no checks and balances from the government whatsoever and of course, when you don’t require voter ID to cast ballots, you get serious issues that you open yourself up needlessly to ineligible voters casting ballots and elections,” Gidley said. 

Trump and Republicans across the country have been using the issue of undocumented people voting as a campaign issue this year. 

However, voting by noncitizens in federal elections is very rare and attempts by noncitizens to vote are identified, according to numerous studies and audits performed by different groups in different states.

According to The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, less than 100 cases of voter fraud have been connected to noncitizens since 2002, as of a March count by The Washington Post.

The assertion that there’s more people registered to vote in some counties than there are eligible voters is one the Republican National Committee (RNC) has taken to court in Michigan in March. The filing says there are 76 counties out of Michigan’s 83 counties where voter registration is unreasonably high and the state does not maintain accurate voter rolls, threatening rightful voters’ right to vote.

Trump’s former deputy press secretary calls for a clean up of Michigan voter rolls
Rep. Rachelle Smit (R-Martin) speaks at a news conference about cleaning up the state’s voter roll on June 12, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) responded to the lawsuit in May saying that the RNC’s math uses voter registration rates from 2024 to compare to 2022 census population data.

The Brennan Center For Justice put out a statement in April denouncing the RNC’s actions saying it’s seeking a stop to the lawsuit “that threatens to disenfranchise Michigan voters.” 

The statement says that federal law requires states to make reasonable efforts to remove ineligible voters from the voter roll once they’ve died or move to another state and Michigan delivers on that requirement.

“Michigan’s list maintenance programs more than meet this bar. Nevertheless, the RNC is relying on a debunked methodology to claim that Michigan’s voter rolls have too many registrants and the state must purge them more aggressively,” the Brennan Center For Justice statement said.

People on both sides of the political spectrum have lost faith in elections, Gidley said, noting that Michigan has seen prosecutions for ballot tampering and forged signatures. And whether it’s by ignorance or malice, laws are being broken, he said, and it needs to stop.

Trump’s former deputy press secretary calls for a clean up of Michigan voter rolls
Former President Donald Trump’s White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley speaks at a news conference about cleaning up the state’s voter roll on June 12, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

Republican voters are significantly less confident in election processes than their Democratic counterparts, according to an October 2022 Pew Research Center survey. The survey found that 44% of Republican voters reported they believed elections in November 2022 would be run “not too well” or “not at all well,” whereas 12% of Democrat voters reported sharing those feelings.

Gidley said he and the Republican lawmakers present will be delivering a packet of information and concerns to the offices of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Attorney General Dana Nessel, House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) and the president of the state Senate, likely meaning Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids. All are Democrats.

“As we began to kind of comb through this data and information, we realized just how bloated these voter rolls are,” Gidley said. “We wanted to make sure that the elected officials could not claim ignorance on the matter.”