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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Dead ‘voter’ cited in Trump lawsuit never cast ballot, Michigan records show

LANSING — Republican President Donald Trump's new federal lawsuit seeking to delay certification of Michigan election results includes a false claim that a dead person cast a ballot, according to the Department of State. 

The complaint, which alleges dozens of improprieties during absentee ballot counting in Detroit, includes an affidavit from Anita Chase of Warren, who claimed she reviewed state records showing her deceased son had cast ballots in 2016 and 2020. 

It’s the only assertion of a dead voter in the lawsuit, which was announced Tuesday and officially filed Wednesday in federal court. The Trump campaign submitted affidavits from more than 100 Detroit election challengers, claiming they were denied a “meaningful opportunity” to review ballot tabulation. 

Rather than a dead voter, though, it appears to be a case of mistaken identity caused by confusion over "common names," said Tracy Wimmer, a spokesperson for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's office. 

The voter registration for a Mark D. Chase, who was listed as living at the same Warren address as his mother, was cancelled in 2016, according to state records, which show he last voted in 2014 and was born in 1978. 

That birthday aligns with an online obituary for Chase, who died in July 2016.  

There are two other Mark D. Chase listings in the state's Qualified Voter File. Both were born in different years than Anita Chase's son and live in different parts of the state: There is a Mark D. Chase is Ottawa County who is an active voter, and a Mark D. Chase in Barry County who has no recent voting history, Wimmer said.

Bridge was not immediately able to contact Anita Chase. In her affidavit, Chase said her son would be 42 years old if he were alive. A recent copy of the Qualified Voter File reviewed by Bridge did not include any listings for a Mark D. Chase born in 1978. 

As Bridge reported Tuesday, Trump’s campaign and supporters have made unsubstantiated claims that Democrats want to count ballots from deceased voters in Michigan, where challenger Joe Biden defeated the president by nearly 150,000 votes, according to unofficial results. 

But none of the claims from Trump supporters has panned out so far, including internet and social media posts about Michigan voters who are very much alive

Donna Brydges, one of the voters alleged to be dead, was alive and playing cribbage with her husband in their home near Ludington last week. Another, June Aiken of Napoleon Township, is “alive and well” too — “quite well, in fact,” according to police who check on her. Same goes for William Bradley of Detroit, whose father of the same name died decades ago. 

Like many false fraud claims that have spread online in the last week, officials said those accusations were triggered by a series of isolated data input errors by some of Michigan's 1,603 local and county election clerks.

Bradley was confused with his father of the same name. The Qualified Voter File mistakenly listed the 75-year-old Brydges as 119 years old. Aiken's birthday was listed in the Qualified Voter File as 1900 instead of 1926, and an online obituary suggested a woman with the same name had died. 

But Napoleon Township police investigated the claim and spoke with Aiken to confirm she is alive, Deputy Police Chief Matt Peters told Bridge. “There's no evidence at this point of any fraud or any intent to defraud the system at all."

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