Michigan election deniers’ voting machine thefts go to special prosecutor

After the 2020 election, a cabal of rural northern Michigan election deniers persuaded several county clerks to hand over voting equipment, which they broke into hoping to prove the election was “stolen” from Trump.

They obtained 5 machines from 5 counties (Barry, Genesee, Missaukee, Roscommon, and Wexford counties, all of which Trump won with over 64% of the vote, and Genesee County, which Biden won with 55% of the vote, see election results here).

Biden won Michigan by 154,188 votes. He got 144,158 votes from those 5 counties. Even if all those votes were thrown out, he still would’ve won Michigan’s electoral votes, so it’s not clear what the conspirators thought they could “prove” by seizing a single tabulator from a single township in each of those 5 counties.

According to the Detroit News (story here), “The group’s efforts involved … breaking into the machines, printing ‘fake ballots’ and performing ‘tests’ on the equipment.”

Then, one of the machines apparently was donated to a Goodwill store, resold on eBay, and the buyer turned it over to Michigan authorities (see story here), who confirmed it was stolen from Wexford County. The Goodwill store is in Cadillac, a town in Wexford County. State police are still investigating how it ended up there.

State police investigated the voting machine breaches, then turned over the case to the state attorney general, Dana Nessel, a Democrat.

Her GOP opponent, Matt DePerno (photo, left), was allegedly the group’s ringleader, so Nessel recused herself and tasked the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council with choosing a special prosecutor. They picked D. J. Hilson, the Muskegon County prosecutor, and a Democrat.

The gist of the accusation is that DePerno “orchestrated a conspiracy with a state lawmaker and a lawyer to break into voting equipment in a hunt for evidence to prove former president Donald Trump’s false voter-fraud claims” (see story here; read about his voting machine assertions here).

Nine individuals are under investigation and could face charges including Dar Leaf, the notorious Barry County sheriff who supports armed rightwing militias and has appeared on stage with them (photo below). The “lawmaker” is state Rep. Daire Rendon (photo, right) from Lake City in Missaukee County, just over the county line from Cadillac (see map here).

The charges they could face “include ‘but are not limited to’ conspiracy, using a computer system to commit a crime, willfully damaging a voting machine, malicious destruction of property, fraudulent access to a computer or computer system and false pretenses, according to the attorney general’s office,” the Detroit News said.

As you’d expect, the conspirators claim the investigation and special prosecutor are a politically-motivated witch hunt. Fine, let them persuade a jury that the Michigan state police conduct witch hunts, and it’s legal for stolen county property to end up at Goodwill and then on eBay.

Personally, I think their best bet is to argue they’re too stupid to be criminals, and they’re only poor misguided souls who got lost in a thicket of GOP election conspiracy theories.

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