Republicans in swing-state Michigan are quietly working to oust local elections officials who voted to certify President Joe Biden's victory — and replace them with pro-Donald Trump conspiracy theorists.
"The trend focuses on four-member county canvassing boards, the bipartisan panels in charge of verifying records and importantly, certifying results," the Detroit News reported Monday. "Democrats are concerned that the new canvassers, spurred by former President Donald Trump, will refuse to approve future results or use their positions to interfere in the process."
Mark Brewer, an elections attorney and former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, called the situation "unprecedented" and "dangerous."
"This deliberate attempt by the Republican Party to subvert future Michigan elections by putting big lie supporters on county canvassing boards should alarm everyone who believes in democracy," Brewer told the Detroit News.
Chris Thomas, Michigan's former longtime elections director, said having "fringe" people on the canvassing boards will create a "mess" if counties refuse to certify election results.
Each county in Michigan has a four-member canvassing board made up of two Republicans and two Democrats, nominated by party officials and confirmed by local commissioners. Every two years, one canvassing board member from each party begins a new four-year term.
Canvassing board members typically serve for long periods and act in a non-partisan fashion, but this year GOP officials have nominated new members in eight of Michigan's 11 largest counties — including four in which the current member wanted to be re-nominated but wasn't, according to the Detroit News.
One of the new GOP nominees in Wayne County, Michigan's largest, is Hima Kolanagireddy, who was presented as a witness by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani last year as he pressed state lawmakers to overturn Biden's victory.
Kolanagireddy has been nominated to replace Monica Palmer, who initially declined to certify the 2020 election results but later reversed course, as the state narrowly averted a crisis.
"I think this is clearly an attempt (to ensure) that I don't remain on the Board of Canvassers because I did eventually certify the election," Palmer said.
In Antrim County, Republicans have nominated Victoria Bishop, who moderated an event with MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell in June. And in Macomb County, Michigan's third-largest, GOP officials have nominated Nancy Tiseo, who tweeted in November that Trump should use "military tribunals" to investigate his false claims of widespread election fraud.
Elsewhere, Ingraham County Clerk Barb Byrum blasted Republicans for not re-nominating Anthony Markwort even though he did his job well and wanted to continue serving.
"It is very disappointing that the Republican chair has opted to go with conspiracy believers and election problem makers against individuals who are willing to work with a critical eye on certifying the election," said Byrum, a Democrat.
Genesee County Clerk John Gleason, also a Democrat, said Republicans have proposed "wackos" to replace Michelle Voorheis, who served for 13 years but was not re-nominated after she made statements on social media defending the outcome of the 2020 election.
GOP officials in Genesee County have instead nominated Kathy Keller, who recently called county commissioners "Nazis."
"Whatever nut case they want to put on there, we'll put them on there," Gleason said.