Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) has requested a law enforcement investigation into potential unauthorized access to vote tabulator components and technology in Roscommon County, and the description of the situation that was provided by Benson’s office in a press release suggests that it could be similar to ordeals including one in Colorado, where Trump ally and Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters (R) helped facilitate access by an unauthorized third party to county elections equipment. Peters could face criminal charges; in Michigan, Benson’s office noted it’s a felony to “obtain undue possession of [a]… voting machine,” and under Michigan law, “[a] person shall not aid or abet in any act prohibited by this subdivision.”
Benson’s office’s press release did not name the unauthorized third party who may have illegally accessed local elections equipment. Republicans seem likely to have been involved, since a push to access such materials could be tied to haphazard efforts to find non-existent evidence of imaginary election fraud that Trump and others have claimed was responsible for Joe Biden’s election victory. At issue, though, is (among other things) that there are strict requirements for the handling of such items, and when those requirements aren’t met, taxpayer money has to be used to replace certain affected machines. “Unauthorized access to machines is a breach of election security protocols and may have exposed the machines to vulnerabilities that render them unusable in future elections,” Benson’s office noted. As she put it:
‘Protecting the integrity and security of our elections, especially from those who use lies and misinformation to deceive Michigan voters, is a critical component of defending democracy in this moment. Michigan law is clear about the security threats that emerge when anyone gains unauthorized access to our election machines or technology, and I will have no tolerance for those who seek to illegally tamper with our voting equipment.’
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It’s also in Michigan that state Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) formally referred a scheme to falsify electoral votes on behalf of Donald Trump to federal criminal investigators, and deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco of the U.S. Justice Department has since confirmed that federal authorities are looking into the issue. “Roscommon County Clerk Michelle Stevenson and Richfield Township Clerk Greg Watt didn’t respond Thursday evening to requests for comment,” The Detroit News says, adding that “Richfield Township Supervisor John Bawol said he didn’t know what Benson’s statement was referring to.” Richfield Township, which is situated within Roscommon County, was named by Benson’s team as a specific area of concern.
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Although identities of those involved weren’t laid out by Benson’s office right away, the Secretary of State’s team did note that a filing in a certain election-related lawsuit “claimed to include an image from an Elections System and Software tabulator, the vendor that provides tabulators to all Roscommon County jurisdictions” — but not, apparently, to Antrim County voters, which is the location that the lawsuit addressed. Michigan State Police have confirmed that they’re investigating the matter. A letter this week from Benson to local elections officials stated that there had been “multiple credible allegations of instances in which an unauthorized third-party has been granted access to vote tabulation machines in violation of Michigan law” [emphasis added].
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