The Big Lie won't stop until Republicans start going to jail for breaching of election security, fraudulent elector conspiracy charges, and meddling with voting machines and data. In Michigan at least, we could finally be close to the beginning of this.
A Michigan township official who promotes false conspiracy theories of a rigged 2020 election could face criminal charges related to two voting-system security breaches, according to previously unreported records and legal experts.
A state police detective recommended that the Michigan attorney general consider unspecified charges amid a months-long probe into one breach related to the Republican clerk’s handling of a vote tabulator, according to a June email from the detective to state and local officials. Reuters obtained the email through a public-records request.
The clerk, Stephanie Scott, oversaw voting in rural Adams Township until the state last year revoked her authority over elections. Scott has publicly embraced baseless claims that the 2020 election was rigged against former U.S. President Donald Trump and has posted online about the QAnon conspiracy theory.
In a second breach of the township’s voting system, the clerk gave a file containing confidential voter data to an information-technology expert who is a suspect in other alleged Michigan election-security violations. The expert, Benjamin Cotton, worked with voter-fraud conspiracists seeking unauthorized access to election systems in other states, according to court records reviewed by Reuters. The incident has not been previously reported.
Scott denies any wrongdoing. The attorney general and state police declined to comment on the allegations against the clerk.
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, the top election official in this battleground state, stripped Scott of her authority over elections last year after the clerk refused to perform regular maintenance and accuracy testing on voting equipment. Scott believed, incorrectly, that the process would erase 2020 election data, which she believed might contain fraud evidence.
Scott’s actions are part of a national effort by public officials and others seeking evidence of Trump's false stolen-election claims. The allegations against Scott have parallels to the high-profile case of Tina Peters, the clerk in Mesa County, Colorado, who enjoys cult-hero status in the election-conspiracy movement and faces felony charges related to similar voting-system breaches.
Scott’s case illustrates what some election-security experts describe as a growing insider threat from officials tasked with safeguarding American democracy. Reuters has documented 18 incidents nationally, 12 of them in Michigan, in which public officials and others are accused of breaching or attempting to breach election systems. Such violations can expose confidential voter information and enable election-tampering by revealing security protocols.
"The insider threat question is what keeps many people up at night,” said Matthew Weil, executive director of the Democracy Program at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank.
If charged, Scott would become the second elected clerk nationally to face criminal prosecution related to a security breach following the November 2020 election. The Mesa County district attorney accuses Peters of helping an unauthorized person make copies of her voting machine hard drives. She has pleaded not guilty to 10 criminal counts, including seven felonies, and is set to go to trial in March.Both Peters and Scott have insisted they had a duty to investigate fraud allegations. Peters did not respond to a request for comment.
The bigger problem remains that multiple Republican election officials and candidates for election offices like Secretary of State in multiple states continue to lie about the 2020 election and are vowing if elected to make sure no Democrat in their jurisdiction wins ever again.
We have to stop them, and we need your vote to help.