Elections, alternative facts, COVID-19. Barb Byrum on election integrity

November 30, 2020

Michigan Policast for Monday, November 30, 2020

  In this episode:

  • Board of Canvassers certifies the election
  • Barb Byrum on checks & balances and election integrity in Michigan
  • Alternative facts, truthful hyperbole, conspiracies, and lies
  • John James concedes, kinda, and Donald Trump is the worst POTUS ever
  • COVID in Michigan, COVID everywhere
  • Transcript



Jump to:

Board of Canvassers certifies the election







Barb Byrum on checks & balances and election integrity in Michigan



Barb Byrum speaks to the Board of State Canvassers (1:03:14)







Alternative facts, truthful hyperbole, conspiracies, and lies








Don't be so overly dramatic about it Chuck, you're saying it's a falsehood, out Press Secretary gave alternative facts to that” (1:53)


John James concedes, kinda, and Donald Trump is the worst POTUS ever






“Don't ever talk to the President that way ….”


How an adult handles it when someone talks to the President that way.


COVID in Michigan, COVID everywhere








Walt Sorg  00:05

This is the Michigan Policast. We're all about Michigan politics and policy and the National stories impacting our positive peninsulas. I'm Walt Sorg.


Walt Sorg  00:42

Up is down black is white losing is winning 74 million is more than 80 million. The delusional money making scam by the huckster. 45 continues, even as president elect Joe Biden quietly builds a new administration around competence, experience and knowledge and without one single Fox News commentator, or even a member of his family.


Christine Barry  01:09

I'm Christine Barry. Hopefully you survive Thanksgiving with Trump loving in laws. The pandemic rages on in Michigan and nationwide with hospitals at capacity. But there's a glimmer of hope short term as the spike in cases starts downward again in the aftermath of Governor Whitmer, his latest emergency health measures. Also this week, john James finally concedes the obvious and congratulates Gary Peters and a crisis in what's real grows as millions buy into a world of alternative facts


Walt Sorg  01:39

later in the pod I'll talk the multiple steps local clerk's take to ensure fair accurate elections bipartisan oversight are those elections with Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum.  Spoiler alert despite what legal giant Rudy Giuliani tells us, it's impossible to orchestrate massive voter fraud in Michigan.


Board of State Canvassers  01:57

If there is no further discussion on the motion. Often the board members to listen Will you please take a roll call vote? chair Bradshaw. Yes. Vice Chair ban Lang belt. Yes. Listen to that. Mr. schinkel. Madam Chair, you have three votes, the motion, the motion does move.


Christine Barry  02:20

So after a lot of drama over a week, the Michigan election story came to an end with the board of canvassers doing its job certifying that Joe Biden won Michigan by more than 154,000 votes. But it didn't come until after republicans led by eighth district GOP chair and board member norm shinkle continued the myth of widespread irregularities in the counting of Michigan's votes.


Board of State Canvassers  02:44

(Norm Shinkle) numerous questions have been raised and maybe legitimate, but the board of canvassers does not have the time the resources or the authority potentially, to get to the bottom of most of these issues.  It is clear that the Secretary is Secretary of State acted perhaps in a way that exacerbated the situation by forcing certain local first to distribute valid applications to everyone on the qualified voter file that action was contrary to state law and resulted in some voters arriving to vote on Election Day, only to be told you've already voted.


Walt Sorg  03:13

Quick fact checked on that, Christine, the courts have ruled that it was illegal to distribute all those absentee voter applications, but we move on.


Christine Barry  03:21

Yes, we move on. shinkel is a former member of the Michigan legislature he called for a legislative investigation into the election and laid the blame for all that is wrong on Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.


Board of State Canvassers  03:34

(Norm Shinkle) The Secretary of State has been on the list of these issues. And your failure to effectively address them have resulted in national embarrassment for Michigan. Just this past August after our primary election, I was under the assumption that she was going to use her statutory supervisory control to run the November election in Detroit. This did not happen. their inability or unwillingness to properly organize Michigan elections. So they're only eligible voters vote and all those are properly verified. And that abuse of absentee voting procedures and ballots is prevented. And that votes when being verified or card are subject to proper scrutiny by credited poll workers isn't excusable.


Walt Sorg  04:13

The irony of all of this, of course, is before Benson took office last year, Republicans controlled the Secretary of State's office and the Michigan State Senate for 25 years, and for much of the time also control the Michigan house and the governor's office. If reforms weren't needed, and they were and they are, it's because republicans chose to do nothing to fix the system for nearly three decades. Republicans also chose to ignore Benson's call earlier this year for major reforms. She sent those over in early 2020. Most notably giving local clerks the ability to begin processing absentee votes early, so there'd be no delay in getting the results, something that was noted by democratic board member Julie Matusak.


Board of State Canvassers  04:51

(Julie Matusak) He has to allow for earlier processing of absenteeism ballots. In my opinion, I think we need to look at how we certify and train challengers how the parties do that. And figure out I would hope how we could do that on a bipartisan basis. I think we need to get rid of I think we're the only one in the nation that says you can't read can't appreciate if it's unbalanced. There are many things the legislature and only the legislature can do to fix this.


Walt Sorg  05:27

And we'll be talking more about that with Barb Byrum. A little later in the podcast, Christine. But the reality is Michigan has never had a major scandal over voter fraud going back as long as I could remember, and that's with Republican Secretaries of State, Democratic Secretaries of State, we simply don't run crooked elections in the state, the biggest assault on our elections actually just come from Republicans with attempts at voter suppression, but a lot of that was overturned by the voters in 2018. With proposal three, so the bottom line is, it's real. And Michigan, whatever, you know, Rudy Giuliani has yet to come up with any facts to back up his claims. And I did a little math, by the way, in Wayne County, they talked about all of those unbalanced precincts and what a scandal that was. Well, apparently they had about 500 vote discrepancy between the number of ballots issued and the number of votes cast, that works out to an error rate of 0.05%. That is statistically perfect. I mean, involves so many human beings along the way. And there's there's so much fatigue and everything else going into it. That's an amazingly low number and its effect, it's lower than it was in the 2016 election, which Donald Trump very happily claimed a victory in by 10,000 votes.


Christine Barry  06:38

Yeah, this whole lie about, you know, a rigged election in Michigan really rests on many different layers. And you know, at the bottom at the absolute gutter level bottom, are the people who are never going to believe anything about elections anyway. They're always going to believe something's rigged with or without the narrative that the republicans are selling. And then on top of that, the months long effort, really years if it's Trump, but if you're talking about you know, more in Michigan, you have this several months that the republicans have just been losing their minds, because our Secretary of State sent out ballot applications. So how did the republicans respond, they blocked most attempts to process any mail in ballots early, even though it was clear that the voters in 2018 wanted to reform the way that we vote and make it more accessible. They blocked any efforts to get those million votes processed earlier, so that it would be a bad experience for voters. They smear Jocelyn Benson even stupid Ruth Johnson got in there and started talking about how this was ripe for fraud and everything. I mean, they just created this story. And unfortunately, that story, and then the the fact that you really couldn't count mail-in votes until, until late in the election process created that red Mirage that we've talked about, or that illusion that Trump was winning. And then he loses. And then you have another set of like new conspiracy theorists because they believe the story for months on end, and now they see the numbers change at the last minute. So there are many different layers to this, whether they were intentional or not. I don't know. But you've got to hand it to them that they certainly know how to do damage to an election.


Walt Sorg  08:24

And it is not unusual for Wayne County votes to come in late anyway, because it's the biggest county by far you have more than a million votes being cast just in Wayne County that have to be counted. first election ever recovered a way back a million years ago, was Bill Milligan's first free election, his first election campaign actually after he had been elevated to Governor by the resignation of George Romney. And he was running against Sandy Levin and he wanted very narrowly and he didn't win it actually, until about a day and a half after the voting. It ended because they hadn't finished counting Wayne County, and Sander Levin, the Democratic candidate and his campaign manager curl 11. We're hoping against hope that Wayne County would pull their campaign through and it came with just a little bit short. It wasn't quite as close four years later with the two had a rematch. But yeah, it's always been that way. It's always going to be that way just because Wayne County and have the resources to count them any faster. And because there's an awful lot of votes to count. One of the things I find really personally offensive, you know, a lot of things that are very offensive about all these claims that are being made of rigged elections come from the mouth of Ronna romney McDaniel, the Republican National chairperson, former Michigan chairperson, and of course person who is a part of the romney family. I've always had deep respect for the romney family even when I've disagreed with him on policy, whether it was George and Lenore Romney, two of the first politicians I covered when I was a very, very young reporter, or Mitt Romney, even though I've disagreed with him a lot on a lot of things, but I still think he's a person of integrity. His brother Scott served with distinction on the MSU board. trustees, it could have been attorney general, if the Republicans had been smart enough to nominate him. They didn't they nominated somebody else who Frank Kelly went on to destroy. But she's just, she's just a total horror for the President of the United States and putting out all these baseless conspiracy theories, and pushing them and pushing them and pushing them and using them as a fundraising tool, and using them to get reelected as chair of the National Committee, I find her one of the most repugnant people in politics and believe me, there are a lot of repugnant people in politics. We'll be talking a little bit later about the assault on truth, but she's one of the leaders in the assault on truth, aiding and abetting 45.


Christine Barry  10:38

You know, it's interesting that you find it a little bit more offensive, because you have so much respect for her family who, by the way, I guess I don't know about Mitt's brother, but they're all Republicans, right? I mean, you know, they're all republican they're a republican family. And we and


Walt Sorg  10:52

although George and Lenore would be democrats today, based on their policy positions, yeah,


Christine Barry  10:57

right, right. Whereas irana is, today's Republican. In a way, it reminds me of what a woman has to do in corporate America, right, she has to embrace the brand and really push it and work 110% in order to get to be successful. That's kind of what she reminds me of, because she is really out there selling this ridiculous story. And it's, in my opinion, she's embarrassing herself. I feel the same way about Laura Cox, although I don't know much about her. But the things that they say, are embarrassing. I think they should be embarrassed by I'm sure they're not. But I hate to see it. Because I think you know, I, as a woman want to see successful women. And I feel like this, these people are embarrassing. So


Walt Sorg  11:42

there's a really interesting, deep dive piece in the Sunday washington post about the President's actual attitude towards the election. And I've always felt that thing was just he was just doing another con so he could raise money for his whatever he wants his slush fund that he wants to have his post presidency, as well as to set himself up. So he's got a defense when they criminal charges come against them, especially from the state of New York, he wants to be able to say just part of the witch hunt continuing that goes all the way back to Russia. But this deep dive piece indicates really that 45 actually believes he won the election, for somebody to be that delusional with the nuclear code scares the living crap out of me.


Christine Barry  12:20

Don't you think he actually believes a lot of what he says though? I mean, I'm sure he believes that he had the biggest inaugural crowd ever, that he's had the best ratings ever. I'm sure he believes all of those things. Because it you know, he probably trained himself early on, if I'm going to sell this narrative to this person, I need to believe it myself. So it wouldn't surprise me that he believed it. The thing is, it's not just that he believes it. And to your point, I think it is somewhat concerning that somebody who is that delusional does have that much power. But what gets me even more than the fact that he believes it is the fact that I think he knows that he needs to be president for another four years, because he's facing some serious problems once he's not president. And I don't know that he would go to prison. I don't know if America is the kind of country that would really prosecute somebody, if he's done things that are prosecutable. I'm not going to speak to that. But if he has, I don't know that he would end up in prison. I think he probably had financial problems. But I just think he knows he needs four more years in that office to fix his financial situation. That in itself is kind of just upsetting to say, but and so there's a desperation there that I think it goes beyond him just being delusional.


Walt Sorg  13:41

Well, there's also another great deep dive in the post, it's a column by RUTH MARCUS, on whether or not 45 should be prosecuted for crimes committed while President of the United States when the reality is there are plenty of crimes that were committed before he became president of the united states that the state of New York could go after the idea of the federal government pursuing an ex president is very problematic, even when it's somebody who's clearly crooked as as the current occupant of the office, the thing I would like to see if there is federal prosecution would be the obstruction or congressional oversight, because that really goes to the core of the Constitution. He basically for four years as president has ignored congressional subpoenas congressional requests for information, and said, You have no right to demand anything from me for the purposes of oversight. And I think that's very dangerous for the country. Whereas these other things that were done, they may be against the law. In fact, they probably were against the law, but it's kind of petty crime, you know, all of the self dealing that was done the millions of dollars of federal money that was directed towards his businesses, the many other things that he did that were borderline illegal, leave those alone, if you really, if there really needs to be an accountability that could send them into prison. I'm sure the state of New York is fully capable of going after him because he was a crook before he became president. He was a crook while he was president, but the stuff before became president who's under the jurisdiction of the state of New York. And there's a lot of things they can do to him there.


Christine Barry  15:05

And I hope that it stays at the state level, quite honestly, is as much fun as it would be to see him answer for everything he did as President. Anytime you get into something like that, where it's at the federal level, the question of a pardon is going to come before President Biden, and I'm really not interested in him making a decision on that.


Walt Sorg  15:25

No, although I think he probably would fall into sort of the same way that Jerry Ford did many years ago, in pardoning richard nixon that he didn't want to put the nation through that. Because one thing that President like Biden recognizes that 74 million people did vote for this guy. Why I will talk about that a little bit later, at least in part, but the fact remains, he got a lot of votes. And a lot of those people are very passionate about him, not the whole 74 million, but certainly many, many 10s of millions, are very passionate about this man. And anything that is done against him will be viewed in the most negative light by them. And it could be further destabilizing into a country that's already teetering on the edge right now.


Christine Barry  16:04

Yeah, exactly. I mean, Biden has a big job ahead of him without having to deal with any more of Trump's garbage. I mean, we could end up in a war with Iran or something before he even gets there.


Walt Sorg  16:14

he's doing his best to screw everything up that he can for Biden coming in, and just make it as hard as possible for Biden to succeed. He reminds me very much of the little kid who's playing a board game, and is losing and says, Oh, you just gave this game is stupid and tips the board over rather than finishing it. That's exactly what he's doing right now to the whole country. He's tipping the board over and say, This is a stupid country, you should have voted for me. I'm just I'm not playing anymore.


Christine Barry  16:40

Sure. If you, you know, follow that up with then he crushes the game pieces and rips up the board. I mean, it's much more than just throwing a tantrum. He's actually like, damaging us and


Walt Sorg  16:53

claiming video and claiming that he won the game along the way.


Christine Barry  16:56

Yeah. And that's, that's a problem because so many people are so upset now. People are going to get killed over this. There's just no doubt in my mind somewhere people will be killed over this stupid lie.


Walt Sorg  17:09

Okay, his brilliant team of lawyers now has lost or withdrawn more than 30 cases around the country, including several in Michigan, although there's another lawsuit in Michigan, basically demanding that Gretchen Whitmer refused to send by no electors to Washington and instead said a whole bunch of electors for the loser of the election. I'm sure Gretchen's really taking that into consideration of very strongly but no federal judges in order to do that anyway. It is crazy.


Christine Barry  17:38

is that? Is that not the Mount Everest of confidence? No, it's rigged.


Walt Sorg  17:44

suggested to me, just give it to me the election was rigged. And when you can't even convince Mike Shirky and Lee Chatfield that you've got a case, how in God's name Are you going to convince a federal judge is going to lifetime appointment? I could care less what you think about them.


Christine Barry  18:00

I will have to tell you though, I think Rudy Giuliani in court is so entertaining. Well, that's true. Oh my goodness, it


Walt Sorg  18:06

makes my cousin Should I apply? Yeah, it makes my cousin Vinnie sound like high, high legal drama. Oh my goodness, a reality that's big ignored by he who shall remain nameless and all of his lawsuits. It's impossible to rig the statewide vote in Michigan, because we don't have a statewide election. The reality is we have simultaneously hundreds of local elections run by local clerks under the supervision of their county clerks. We're joined by am county clerk Barb byram, to talk about the multiple checks and balances built into the system. Okay, Barb, let's start with something really easy. Let's say that I decided I want to rig a statewide election, maybe swing 150,000 votes, you know, elections inside out, how do I go about doing it?


Barb Byrum  18:51

You probably don't do it in Michigan. That would be your first step. And then you would if you did do something like that in Michigan, you would have to have thousands of people to help you. There are so many checks and balances in Michigan election, that it would it would take a lot to be able to swing an election in our great state. Michigan has some of the safest and most secure elections in the nation mainly because of the 83 County Clerk's that program the election or contract with a vendor to program the election program the election and that's programming the computer to have the program in the tabulator. To read the ballots. Michigan has optical scan so the computer reads the balance and tallies the votes. They send that programming to the local level city and township clerk's are about 1500 different city and township clerk's in our great state. Those township clerk's test all the program in a public accuracy testing, which no one ever goes to even though it's a public meeting, to make sure that the ballots are being properly read and tabulated by the programming. Then everything is locked up and secured. And there are rules and guidelines for that as well. Followed by the Bureau of elections in the state of Michigan.


Barb Byrum  20:02

On election day, the local clerk is responsible for the administration of the election on election day. Then those results, the unofficial results are sent to the county clerk. The unofficial results come from the local to the county clerk, the county clerk then typically post them for the everyone to see on their website. The next day the board of canvassers meets, and the Board of canvassers is made up of two democrats and two Republicans. And they will canvass the entire election, make sure that the number of people voted equals the number of ballots voted, and go through everything. Sometimes those precincts might not be honest. Typically, it's because of a ballot jam, someone walked off with a ballot or something like that. And then they will eventually certify the election.


Barb Byrum  20:50

After certification, it goes up to the state level for the State Board of canvassers, to certify which they just recently did for the November 3 General. After that, there is a period for filings of recounts, after that period has expired, there is a required audit time. So in Michigan, I think when I was in the legislature, actually, we voted on mandatory audits. So in coordination with the Secretary of State's office, the county level does audits of the elections. It is random, except the Secretary of State does accept suggestions. But it is a random audit. And they take certain races to hand recount those ballots. And then it's a procedural audit to to make sure the Democrat and Republican precinct inspector both signed everything. The sealed numbers were recorded all of these checks and balances, which aren't sexy, but are necessary to maintain the integrity of our elections.


Walt Sorg  21:48

I know just from working as an election judge for a long, long time, that you do have these checks and balances. I know, for example, when somebody came in to vote who maybe had trouble reading the ballot, and we had to help them read the ballot, it'd be one republican and one democrat would have to stand next to them and read the ballot to them at the same time, just one of the really little things. But in order for a mass voter fraud, you'd basically it's organizational nightmare. You've got like 1500 people, you got to get in on the deal.


Barb Byrum  22:17

Yeah, yeah. And it's it's just not likely. In our state. It's just not Michigan has some of the safest and most secure elections because we have all of those 1500 City and township clerk's in addition to those 83 County Clerk's. And in Michigan, there are three different types of election systems that can be utilized, hearts, dominion, and ESNS. So you'd have to, if you wanted to attack the system, there it anything is possible. And that's why county clerks and local clerks need to be focused on mitigation of risk. But so many eyes are on election, on the administration of the election, that it would if anything is possible, but it absolutely did not happen in November.


Walt Sorg  23:03

Let's follow a ballot for the time that one of the election judges hands it to me at the polling place where I received in the mail until such time as it ends up on the Secretary of State website. All right, it goes there's all there's a whole long chain of custody there and an awful lot of eyes on the belt every every bit of the way. First of all, when does the vote first get counted?


Barb Byrum  23:24

If you're in person and that ballot, you've gone through the steps, you voted your ballot, and now you're feeding it through the tabulator. So this, the stub has already been removed, and that has a number on it. That stuff's been removed. you're feeding that ballot through the tablet, that is a computer The tabulator is a computer. It has a computer program in it, and it is reading the ballot. But


Walt Sorg  23:46

And that computer is not connected to the internet.


Barb Byrum  23:48

Not during the election. No. You feed it through the bat, the tabulator. The tabulator will tabulate the ballot. But those results will not be available until the polls close.


Walt Sorg  24:02

Okay, at the end of the day, all the paper ballots that are in the machine are collected, what happens with them? How secure are they at that point?


Barb Byrum  24:10

So that is a local clerk responsibility but the ballots are removed from the tabulator. Certainly Don't forget the auxillary bin for those write-in candidates, if there are any write-in ballots, and they're put in a ballot container. The ballot containers are certified by the board of canvassers certified to make sure that it has proper seals, proper zippers, you can't take ballots out or put ballots in. It's sealed, that seal number is recorded in the poll book. But then also, the Democrat and Republican precinct inspectors are signing the seal, the tag that's in the seal, the poll book, all of that, and then the local Clerk will work to secure those ballot bags with the ballots in them until the time has run out.


Walt Sorg  24:54

And at this point, still your local courts even don't know who voted for whom


Barb Byrum  24:58

We'll never know who's voted for who? So a lot of people in Michigan, I've been contacted by many who want to unregister as a Republican or unregister, as a Democrat. In Michigan, you don't register with a party affiliation. Now, people run lists and figure things out. And, and usually will identify an individual as a certain party. persuasion, whether that be if they voted in a presidential primary, when we voted in that primary, but in Michigan, we don't know what party people are. That's not in qualified voter file. We never know how you vote either. We know if you voted, but we don't know how you voted. Because when we were following that ballot all along, and the ballot was identified to be issued to you. But then once that ballot stub was removed, and you put the ballot through the tabulator, we don't know which ballot belongs to who


Walt Sorg  25:57

now big deal is being made by some of the Republican leadership, including the state chair or the national chair, that Detroit's books were out of balance for the election. What does that mean? And how serious was it in the case of Detroit,


Barb Byrum  26:11

it's always annoying to me that we're pointing that Detroit, because many jurisdictions will have out of balance precincts. This is a human process. And as a result there, there will be human errors. Typically, an out of balance precinct is one or two ballots out of balance. So we're not talking about a lot. We're not talking about something that would sway an election. But we are talking about something that doesn't balance. And we strive to make sure everything balances. But sometimes it's just out of the local clerk's control to get things to balance. A reason something wouldn't balance coming into the board of canvassers could be because there was a ballot jam in the tabulator. But then coming out of the board of canvassers, then that precinct may be in balance, because the board of canvassers may have noticed that there was a jam, done a total retabulation of all of those ballots, and then brought it into balancing. It is not atypical for a precinct not to balance. We strive for perfection. But again, this is a human process.


Walt Sorg  27:25

Now Ingham County you have war, but 50-60,000 votes in the general, as I recall. And how close were you to balancing.


Barb Byrum  27:33

Ingham County, we had 115 in person precincts, and 105 absent voter precincts, 13 of those remained out of balance.


Walt Sorg  27:46

I know in Detroit that it worked out, I think it was 0.002% out of balance, which is like nothing, nothing minus nothing, totally insignificant. And when you think about it, that's a pretty good error rate.


Barb Byrum  27:58

And when you look at the sheer volume of voters, precinct workers, election workers and all of those people, you have to train and make sure they're, they're making it and reaching the bar of expectation. That is, that is a huge undertaking. And just statistically, the more voters that come in, the more opportunities for improvement, you're gonna have


Walt Sorg  28:20

you and all just about all the other clerks at the county level in the local level, went to the legislature and asked for some changes in state law over the last year, led by the Secretary of State, they basically told you know, what difference would it have made? Had you gotten some of the changes you wanted?


Barb Byrum  28:35

Yeah, so the Michigan Association of County Clerk's and the Michigan Association, municipal clerk's all went to the legislature asking for early processing time, the absentee ballots before election day, because under current law at the time, those envelopes, nothing could be done until polls open on election morning. So the legislature had no appetite for listening to the election professionals. So finally, they said, Well, you know what, we'll just let you so if you're a large, large jurisdiction, we'll let you open the envelopes the day before, but you can't take anything out of the envelope. So you have to do all this additional work and it's going to sunset so you can only do it for November.


Barb Byrum  29:19

As a result, everything the election, administrators have been telling the legislature would happen happened. A lot of people voted absentee. And as a result, unofficial results were not available quickly. We knew more people were going to vote by absentee ballot because since the passage of proposal three in 2018, we have seen more and more people embrace voting by absentee ballot and then we're in the middle of a pandemic. So of course people are going to choose to stay home but still exercise their right so the sheer volume of absentee ballots and the additional work an absentee ballot requires in order to say securly process results were not available at nine o'clock on election night. And we knew that was going to happen. That's why we asked the legislature for accommodation for some flexibility. But they weren't going to have it. And the reason they weren't going to have it so that they could further this narrative of election fraud, and this was their intent. And they knew it. And it is very frustrating. And now, there's they want, they want the election administrators, the professionals to come to the legislature and give them some ideas for election reform. Well we've done that I'm sure we're more than willing to do that again. But hopefully this time, don't listen.


Walt Sorg  30:36

You also have unequal resources county by county, you were able to get your vote in, as I recall, early Wednesday, whereas Detroit Of course, it was it was a couple of days, but then again, they had a lot more voters and per capita a lot less in the way of resources


Barb Byrum  30:52

Yeah, yeah, it's unacceptable. How little is invested in election administration. There are some counties that have resources. And there are some counties that have no resources. There are some jurisdictions that run elections that their clerk works full time, and there are others that their clerk is literally a part time position. It is high time that we invest in the critical infrastructure of election administration,


Walt Sorg  31:19

Barb Byrum. Always a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast.


Barb Byrum  31:21

Thank you so much.


Walt Sorg  31:22

The assault on the integrity of the vote is part of a much bigger challenge. I think, though facing a president like Joe Biden, that's the decades long assault on facts. Rush Limbaugh has been preaching for now decades, something he calls the four pillars of deceit, to the people that listen to his radio show. And they are basically you can't believe anything that comes from the government, the media, academia, or science, who the hell has left? Well, rush limbaugh and people who agree with rush limbaugh. And that has been echoed by the current president of the United States, who famously said, Don't believe what you see or hear only believe me, who famously said only I can fix it, and who continually points to every other institution, his enemies of the people even say that about people like the republican Secretary of State of Georgia is an enemy of the people, because he ran a Clean Election apparently, to me, that's a real threat. Because especially now with with the pandemic, a lot of people aren't going to take the vaccine because they buy into these four pillars of deceit and what belief Fauci they're not going to believe the CDC, they're not going to believe president like Biden, they're not going to believe the academics who support this vaccine. And a lot of them are going to say, No, I'm not taking the vaccine. And all that's gonna do is prolonged a pandemic,


Christine Barry  32:44

what do you even say to that there are so many examples of people who are just not willing to believe what is right in front of you. And going back to what I said early earlier, there is always going to be a certain number of people who believe in a conspiracy, they they don't believe anything that they read or, or hear about the world because they have their own opinion about what it is. And that doesn't have anything to do with Trump that just has to do with their worldview. So those people are already there. And then you have this day after day onslaught of this crazy ass media, attacking science and you know, talking about vaccinations causing autism, and you have Holocaust deniers, and I mean, it's been going on for decades, as I think you mentioned earlier, the war on science has been at least 20 years. How long has Rush been really popular since at least the 90s. We're too late to the fight on this.


Christine Barry  33:41

Let's talk a little bit about, you know, some meta here. Actually, what we're talking about is this new world of alternative facts. When you use a phrase alternative facts, we have to talk about what a fact is, right? Because I think you and I would both agree that a fact is a thing that's known to be true. But there's another definition for it now, which is a statement that can be verified effect is something that can be proven true or false through evidence, and therefore a fact is neither true nor false. So when people talk about alternative facts, they have to some people some credibility there. If you recall, when Trump first came into office and talked about his inauguration and spicy says, Well, we had the biggest inauguration ever, when it clearly wasn't. Kellyanne Conway said no, we just gave alternative facts to that. And then there was some other issue and Trump just said it was truthful hyperbole what we're saying. And so they've legitimized it by giving it labels that are used at the highest offices in the land. So now any, anybody can say, Well, this is you know, COVID isn't real. And here are my facts for that. And the facts aren't real facts. Just like in the election. These facts aren't real facts are true facts. They're not borne out by any evidence. They're not proven. proven to be true. But they're alternative facts and they're as good as your real facts, your truthful facts.


Walt Sorg  35:06

You now have half of all republicans believing that the President rightfully won the election, but it was stolen from him by widespread voter fraud that favored Joe Biden. That's a Reuters Ipsos opinion poll that was conducted November 13, through the 17th. And it basically echoes Trump's defiance of the reality that he lost and lost by a whole lot. He lost by 6 million plus votes. But he refuses to accept that fact as he refused to accept the fact that he lost four years ago by 3 million votes. But due to this weird, wonky thing we've got called the electoral college still managed to become president of the United States. 52% of Republicans say that the President rightfully won, while only 29%, said Biden as rightfully one. That's a huge governing challenge for Joe Biden, as he goes in it, it really tempers everything he does, because he really does want to unify the country. And he knows that it's not something that he can do overnight, because there are so many people that are just so defiant of him. I've had a personal situation with somebody I'm fairly close to which is diagnosed with COVID-19 and refuses to accept the diagnosis. So it's phony, it's it's not real and all that. And after being diagnosed, put something on Facebook saying something to the effect of it's not about the virus. It's about control. That is the challenge. In a nutshell, that is facing President Elect Biden as he takes office. He's got a huge slog, and adding to it's going to be mitch mcconnell. Unless democrats pull off the huge double upset in Georgia, Mitch McConnell is going to be running the senate once again. And mitch mcconnell made a point of sabotaging everything Barack Obama did. And that was back when mitch mcconnell only had 40 votes in the Senate. Now, he'll probably have 51 or 52


Christine Barry  36:49

Just put the courts aside, there is some serious governing, and some good governing that needs to be done to deal with climate change, to deal with our infrastructure to deal with how we respond to COVID. And mitch mcconnell's only reason for living is to destroy democratic presidents so


Walt Sorg  37:09

and to get judges.


Christine Barry  37:10

Yeah, he did that. And I really want those Georgia senators, so that we can fix that. But to the extent that we can


Walt Sorg  37:19

There will be some fixes, but even as we've talked before, if democrats managed to hold on to control of the Senate, with a 5050 plus the Vice President's vote, you're still gonna have Joe Manchin, a pretty conservative Democrat, you're gonna have people like john tester and other pretty conservative Democrat, basically with the key votes in the Senate. So the Senate's not going to go wildly to the left, even if democrats take control. One other part of the problem, too, is are the good, our good friend that we've been tracking in the senate campaign who came up a little short for a second time? That's john James. He's finally out.


Christine Barry  37:51

Yes, he waited three weeks, but he finally admitted that he lost and like Trump, he had continued the fiction of massive voting irregularities. But support for his position in Michigan began to melt away. And he put on the best possible face on his second consecutive loss for the US Senate



results. The election was certified yesterday. And I'm happy to the Board of canvassers led by norm shankle asked the legislature to take a top down review of election law, but it's too late for me. So while I look forward to participating in efforts to secure franchise and integrity of our elections in the near future today, I believe it's the right thing to do for me to congratulate senator Peters. Senator, you may not remember this, but you and I actually shared a glass of scotch at a pistons game a few years back. So in the spirit of the holidays, Senator, there's a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label coming your way soon. Congratulations, sir. I wish you and your family good health and safety this season and in the new year.


Walt Sorg  38:46

A little late but at least gracious.


Christine Barry  38:48

No it wasn't gracious at all. Because Yeah, he okay. He said, Here's your here's your bottle. I mean, he sounds like a nice guy. But what he said was, it's too late for me. I'm glad they're gonna look into the elections. But it's time for me to say congratulations. So he really reinforced this subtle message that Gary Peters was not the legit winner. How many different ways and can you go about undermining the actual winners of the elections? And he did it by Twitter while Yeah, Twitter video he didn't even call Gary. You know, this man lost by more than 92,000 votes. There were not 92,000 fake votes for Gary Peters.


Walt Sorg  39:30

And he knows it.


Christine Barry  39:31

Yeah, he does know it. But But look at how slimy he had to be in the middle of that video. I do think it was nice, good health, happy holidays, blah, blah, blah. That's nice. But he was pretty sleazy in the middle of it. And I'm not going to forget it. And I don't think anybody else should forget it. And you know, it's interesting. A lot of people like john James and I do think he has over performed to expectations in his last two attempts at the Senate. But a lot of people are asking, Can he does he have a future after two losses? And that's a weird question to me. Because I think when it comes to politics, when you're running for a seat, the first campaign, you should kind of, you should know that you're probably going to lose or you may lose unless there's something extraordinary going on. Because you're just getting your name out, then your second one, you may or may not lose, but many people run two or three times before they're actually elected. And running for senate at that is super hard. So yeah, like Mike Mike Bouchard was that his name went back to being Sheriff or whatever. Had he run again, another time or even a third time, he might be a senator. Now, I don't think there's any reason to think john James isn't going to end up in office someday, because he's a charming guy. He knows how to use his military experience, as you know, a political tool.


Walt Sorg  40:56

It was his political tool. He didn't run on any issues. We were deriving him during the campaign for never saying anything about anything. He ran completely on his biography and platitudes. And that was the sum and substance of his campaign, there was no substance. He demanded that Gary Peters debate and Peter's readily accepted, and then there were no debates. And I think there's a reason for that john James realized that Gary Peters would have eaten them alive in a debate, because Gary Peters he is probably when it comes to retail politics, he's horrible. He's just not a very strong candidate, because he's not very charismatic. He doesn't come across as empathetic at all that but he's one hell of a good United States senator and he really knows his stuff. And for him to take on anybody like john James who doesn't know his stuff, it would have been an absolute massacre. It reminds me a little bit of what it was like when Jennifer Granholm debated Richard de vos in her real life campaign. She ate him alive. And Richard divosta is no dummy. And I'm not saying that john James is a dummy. I think his campaign strategy was stupid, though.


Christine Barry  42:00

Yeah, I agree. I mean, when, when everyone is saying he just won't pick an issue, except for the detroit news who said Yes, he did answer our questions in the endorsement interview. I mean, it wasn't just us who were you know, we we picked on him a lot. We would have done that anyway. Right, because he was a Republican, we did not want to win. And frankly, thought he was disingenuous, but the media generally speaking, would not do that. And even they picked up on the fact that he just did not pick positions. Uh, hey, he ran away from Trump when he could, he moved toward Trump when he could, he just was not his own man. That is kind of a it's a turn off. Okay, that's easy to attack.


Walt Sorg  42:46

One other issue that's really got me fascinated since the election, and that is remembering back to when I was a senior in high school. And when you were a senior in high school, one thing I remember very clearly is that last month or two as seniors before we went off to college, we basically didn't do jack squat. We just kind of showed up for class maybe and we went to the beach. And we went to did this and did that. I remember taking my last exam in organic chemistry. It was a multiple choice test. And I didn't really feel like studying for it. So I filled it in at random. I got a C by the way filling get in at random. But that was the extent of my dedication to academics. During my senior year. We basically blew off the last half of our senior year. You showed up for classes most of the time, but actually studying went out the windows, we took some chill time. The current president apparently is taken to that model. Since losing the election. He claims that he won, 45 has spent most of his time playing golf, watching TV and pardoning turkeys. First a gobbler named corn and then a another turkey named General Michael Flynn. What he can't seem to understand or accept in multiple ways he's going down as history as possibly America's worst ever president.


Donald Trump  43:58

Don't talk to me that way. You're just you're just a lightweight. Don't talk to me that don't talk to I'm the President of the United States.  Don't ever talk to the president that way.


Walt Sorg  44:07

Yeah, right.


Christine Barry  44:08

I think Obama's presidency showed us that you can talk to the president any way you want. I mean, Joe Wilson, get a shout out you lie in one of the speeches before a joint session of congress.


Walt Sorg  44:17

Even the interview he did with Colbert last week, they just had a good old time. And cold bear was politely respectful, but there was a bit of a rush there as well. The other problem that the President has to really deal with is that he has numbers that show how unsuccessful he's been. He's the first president since Herbert Hoover to leave office with fewer jobs in the country than when he came in. The stock market's doing really well, but that's great for people in the stock market. He said, by the way, it was going to crash after Joe if Joe Biden were elected in the stock market, sort of an all time record after Joe Biden won the election probably in part in large part because Joe Biden didn't win the election. And he was gonna set Fauci free, among other things. And the other numbers are just as bad $750 the amount of money that he paid in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency, the unemployment rate in April 2020 14.7% $421 million. The documented number of loans that he has coming due in the next couple of years it could very well bankrupt him, and without the presidency more likely to bankrupt him. The total federal debt This is a man who said he was going to balance the federal budget and pay off the national debt in eight years. Instead, the federal debt is now 100.1% of the Gross National Domestic Product. That's the largest share of the GDP for national debt. since the end of World War Two. The tax cut $1.9 trillion. Mostly the rich people just be Sosa's, very happy for it. I'm not sure that it's really meant much to the middle class. The Hundred $30,000. Another number will remember the money page stormy Daniels 26 women have accused him publicly of sexual misconduct. 26 million people in the United States who say they don't have enough money to eat just ahead of Election Day. And so far eight associates of his campaign or the White House, charged with or convicted of federal criminal offenses, including his campaign manager, his deputy campaign manager, his national security adviser, his personal attorney, his foreign policy adviser, his informal policy adviser, his political advisor Roger stone, and Steve Bannon, the all time sleazeball. The only one has been nailed so far as we embark on I hope he's next.


Christine Barry  46:36

I don't even know what to say to that. That just is so disturbing. I saw Ivanka say something about how how we hit 30,000 on the non that dow or something. And I'm like, well, there's 25,000 people at the North Texas Food Bank right now, in line to get food. If your shitty family ever cared about anything like that, things would be better, you know, things might be better in this country. So yeah,


Walt Sorg  47:02

it's a very, it's a very uneven depression. But for the people that are in depression is horrific. People like you and me. It hasn't impacted us very much. And I kind of feel guilty because it hasn't impacted us. But half the population is doing just fine. But the other half is desperate. And you've got Congress sitting on its thumbs, thanks to mitch mcconnell doing absolutely nothing to relieve any of the suffering that's going on in this country. It is it's immoral. It is pathetic, and it is terrific. I'm hoping that somehow some way the voters of Georgia punish mitch mcconnell for what he is doing right now to half of America.


Christine Barry  47:39

I hope so too. And I do have to give I do you want to give corporate america some credit for how they've handled COVID. Because you really see, and by corporate America, I am actually kind of anecdotal. But the businesses that I've interacted with, some are small, and some are large, seem to have taken this virus very seriously. They've enforced masks and their business even when there isn't a mandate. They've helped people work from home, they've been very understanding for folks who have children at home, I know that there are a lot of a baby saying, Please be patient with your co workers. And these meetings, if they have kids in the background, that kind of thing. I really think that in some ways, our businesses in this country have led more than our government has. So it now that doesn't help a lot of people. And it certainly doesn't help the people who want to go to work, but can't because our schools are closed, and their kids are at home and virtual learning. But I do want to give them some credit, because I think it's due,


Walt Sorg  48:42

it is and especially the ones that can afford to stand up need to stand up. There are so many small businesses that are hurting desperately right now. And so many of them that simply won't survive. I have several friends who own restaurants, just in the Lansing area, all of them small business people, entrepreneurs who work very, very hard to make a living. And I fear for all of them. Very, very concerned about them. They've invested their entire lives into these restaurants, which are a small margin business to begin with. And they are just getting absolutely killed. What the governor has done, I think is right in not allowing inside dining for restaurants, at least for the time being. And I understand the pain that that is causing for restaurants.


Walt Sorg  49:21

What has to happen and the governor stepped forward a little bit is to recommend to the legislature a fairly large relief package that's targeted for the small businesses that are getting killed by the pandemic right now. The problem is one Michigan doesn't have a whole lot of money to begin with. So it can only be very limited. And secondly, you've got a Republican legislature that is typically not real open to those kinds of ideas. It's gotten so bad now with this pandemic. at its worst point. We're recording on Sunday later this afternoon. The Denver Broncos are gonna play an NFL game with all of their quarterbacks quarantined. They're going to be starting at quarterback. A bacup wide receiver who has never played in the NFL, he played quarterback in college. And that's their starting quarterback for their game this afternoon. God helped the Denver Broncos but it's really kind of shows how bad it's gotten when even the NFL which is a relatively confined and very money driven organization is being decimated by this virus just like everybody else.


Christine Barry  50:23

I just heard hit 100% capacity. God, that's way too close to my area, we're gonna start going up to our numbers are going up too


Walt Sorg  50:34

And we're probably the relief area for your area because we're not that far away. But I know Sparrow hospitals just about full up right now they've got entire floors devoted to COVID patients. So it's it's really about the numbers are coming down, though a little bit in Michigan from the peak that we hit a couple of weeks ago. And that really I think, is concurrent with the governor's latest steps to clamp down a little bit on getting on people getting together. It is interesting, though, that Fauci is recommending that the schools open and the restaurants close. And I think that's actually what we're doing in Michigan, although we're living up to the locals, people like you with the local school boards to make that decision. But the governor has said, Look, if you want to open the schools feel free to do so you've got to do it safely, of course. But the restaurants and the bars, I'm sorry. And I know it kills her, she likes to go to restaurants, she likes to go to bars, and she has friends who own them very close friends who own them and run them. And plus, that is at the core of entry level employment in this country. That's where people with lower education levels very often get their first good paying job. Where else can somebody with a high school diploma, make 25 – 30 – 35 dollars an hour?


Christine Barry  51:43

Well, and these businesses are are just integral to one of our economic drivers in Michigan, which is tourism. So you know, when that comes back to Michigan, we don't have our restaurants, there's gonna be a huge gap there. And I don't know how long it will take to ramp that industry back up. But it's such a shame. There's the natural demand there for these businesses. And we have to not allow them to do business to get this public health crisis under control. And I don't know what that's going to mean next summer when people start flocking back to Michigan because hopefully, hopefully, we've got COVID under control by then.


Walt Sorg  52:19

Yeah, no, we do have a link on the website on our show page for bridge magazine's Coronavirus tracker in Michigan. And one thing that stands out to me is that in most of the major counties of Michigan, the seven day average has gone down week to week over the last two weeks of just for example, in Oakland County. 742 is the current seven day average the prior week was 790. Wayne County 705. Compared with 722. Here in Ingham County 156 compared to 161. It's not a big drop, but at least one it's not going up and two it is going down a little bit statewide. There are still some peaks in there. We've probably hit 10,000 before too long. But there are some signs of hope. And of course the vaccine is going to be out there sometime next spring for most people old farts like us may get a little bit earlier. Although I don't think it'll be much earlier because the health care workers have to come first. There is some signs of hope but people please don't give up at this point the fight is not over. It would be like saying okay, D day was successful. World War Two is over. No D day was in June, World War Two didn't and for several months after that.


Christine Barry  53:30

So what do you think the holidays are going to do to the numbers in Michigan scares me?


Walt Sorg  53:35

It scares me that people are not going to get off their holidays. I'm even trying to decide whether or not to visit with our daughter and grandkids for the holidays and they're very, very, very, very, very safe. And if I do go I'm gonna be wearing masks the entire time of their house.


Christine Barry  53:50

I'm just gonna zoom everything I can and stay home


Walt Sorg  53:54

yet the 15 bucks a month really pays off, doesn't it? God bless no shirt.


Christine Barry  53:59

Sure does. Well, that's gonna be it for this week's Michigan Policast, time to get the Christmas shopping done by buying local but instead of visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads. We'll think about getting the COVID vaccine.  To inoculate you with information about the topics on today's podcast, head on over to our website, MichiganPolicast.com


Walt Sorg  54:20

As always, Your feedback is welcome. Email us at MIpolicast@gmail.com or you can troll us on our Facebook page or on the Twitter.


Walt Sorg  54:30

Michigan Policast is a production of Michigan citizens for a better tomorrow.

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