Motivated by Donald Trump’s persistent lies about the 2020 election, the Michigan Republican Party has installed a series of officials who have expressed a willingness to overturn the state’s vote if it does not align with their preferences.
Since the 2020 election, Republican leaders in Michigan have purged GOP canvassers in eight of the largest counties, including Macomb, Washtenaw, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Livingston, Saginaw and Genesee, according to a report by The Detroit News last year. At least half of them have been replaced with people who have publicly cast doubt on the 2020 election results.
Jeff Timmer, who ran the Republican Party in Michigan from 2005 to 2009, says he’s alarmed by what’s happening to his party.
“They’ve been able to infiltrate the Republican Party right down to the precinct level in a way that I’ve been astounded by,” he said. “They have paid attention to those very obscure, small party positions, precinct delegates, getting their people in place to chair county Republican parties all across the country – not just to Michigan.”
In an article from December 2021, Slate adds:
In Genesee County, the GOP purge claimed Michelle Voorheis, a Republican leader who served 13 years on the county Board of Canvassers and opposed Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. She liked him as president, especially the way he struck a chord with industrial constituencies in Flint and surrounding communities. “In my township,” she says, “it used to be you couldn’t get elected as a Republican to save your life. Now we’ve got tons of Republicans, mostly your blue-collar older people. They all went for Trump.”
But Voorheis is not happy with the former president’s ongoing claims about “pervasive voter fraud” in Michigan, where Biden outpolled Trump by more than 150,000 votes. “I had to draw the line when all these allegations began flying around,” Voorheis told me. “There were not 150,000 fraudulent votes in the state of Michigan.” She speaks proudly of working with local officials from both parties to ensure a reliable vote count. “Our election system is one of the safest in the entire world,” she said. “And now people have no confidence in it.”
Voorheis was recently replaced as a county canvasser by Eric Stewart, a pastor she calls the “least crazy” of three people put forward for the post by local Republicans. “Every last one of them believes all this fraud happened and that I participated in it,” she said. “It’s sad. People I’ve known for 30 years are literally attacking my integrity.”
Slate points out that there are still some Michigan Republicans willing to standup to the ‘Stop the Steal’ narrative, but the outlet warns:
…the Trump supporters clawing their way into positions of public authority don’t need to win a lawsuit “proving” fraud, or to delay certification of election results indefinitely. In a presidential year, if rogue canvassers can create enough legal and procedural fog to postpone certification for even a few weeks, Michigan might not have a final vote count by the “safe harbor” deadline in early December. State election results submitted after that date can be challenged in Congress.
In such a scenario, GOP majorities in the state Legislature could—in theory—declare a “failed election” and substitute their own slate of electors for those chosen by voters. This should be considered a preposterous idea, but one of its most ardent proponents, GOP state Rep. Matt Maddock, is now running to be speaker of the Michigan House. Maddock is by no means a fringe candidate; his wife, Meshawn Maddock, is co-chair of the state Republican Party.
Republican election deniers are also pursuing Michigan’s secretary of state and attorney general roles.
Kristina Karamo, a community college professor, won the GOP nomination for secretary of state last month. NPR reports:
Karamo is the first of the many election-denying candidates running in secretary of state races across the U.S. to move toward appearing on a state ballot in November. She has also said she doesn’t believe evolution should be taught in schools.
Incumbent Democrat Benson faced a torrent of threats and harassment following the 2020 election that echoed Trump’s lies about voting in Michigan. Ahead of Saturday’s vote, Benson said that she worried about the state of democracy, should the state elect a secretary of state candidate like Karamo, who thinks the 2020 election was stolen.
“It’s like putting arsonists in charge of a fire department. It’s like putting a bank robber in charge of a bank and giving them the keys to the vault,” Benson said. “This is a choice between whether or not we’ll have a democracy moving forward.”
Meanwhile, Matthew DePerno won the GOP nod in the attorney general race. DePerno, a lawyer, was involved in the legal effort to invalidate President Joe Biden’s win in 2020.
Commenting on the Michigan GOP primary winners, The Washington Post editorial board writes:
In a more normal political environment, this November’s elections would rightly be about inflation, the covid-19 pandemic, education and any number of other policy matters. But this year’s vote will be different. Candidates are running for office on blatant falsehoods about U.S. democracy. Meanwhile, the House Republican caucus is increasingly radical, opposing at every turn efforts to investigate Jan. 6 and bowing obsequiously to Mr. Trump, who might once again call on Republicans to overturn a free and fair election. If voters fail to repudiate them in November, U.S. democracy could be at risk.