Michigan GOP officials caught on video urging poll workers to break local election rules
Person using a cell phone (AFP)

On Wednesday, CNN reported that local GOP officials in Michigan openly advised election workers to break rules about carrying phones or pens during a Zoom training call ahead of the state's primary in August.

"The evening before Michigan's state primary, Wayne County GOP leaders held a Zoom training session for poll workers and partisan observers — warning them about 'bad stuff happening' during the election and encouraging them to ignore local election rules barring cell phones and pens from polling places and vote-counting centers," reported Bob Ortega, Audrey Ash, Yahya Abou-Ghazala, and Drew Griffin. "'None of the constraints that they're putting on this are legal,' former state senator Patrick Colbeck told trainees on the August 1 call."

"As far as cell phones, 'I would say maybe just hide it or something, and maybe hide a small pad and a small pen or something like that because you need to take accurate notes,' Cheryl Costantino, the GOP county chairwoman and host of the call, told participants," said the report. "Some participants raised concerns about being tossed out if they broke the rules. 'That's why you got to do it secretly,' Costantino replied."

According to the report, Republican officials repeatedly justified this call to rule-breaking by asserting, with no evidence, that Democrats constantly rig elections or break election rules, and thus they needed to even the playing field — a pervasive conspiracy theory pushed by former President Donald Trump.

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"While volunteer partisan observers have always been trained by political parties and non-profit groups in Michigan, the Wayne County GOP had also invited poll workers — people hired and paid by the local clerk's office," noted the report. "They are in charge of running the election, and their responsibilities can include checking voter IDs, counting ballots, and even securing voting equipment at the end of the day. Poll workers are required to engage in non-partisan training overseen by the local clerk and are only identified as Republicans for the purposes of making sure there is equal representation of both major parties working the election, according to the Michigan Bureau of Elections."

This is not the first time Michigan Republicans have urged poll workers to engage in illegal activity. Ryan Kelley, a former Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate who faces charges for his alleged participation in the January 6 attack, said that poll workers should unplug voting machines "if you see something you don't like happening."