'Michigan GOP stacking county boards with Trump-loving conspiracy kooks: report
Donald Trump speaking in Dimondale, Michigan -- (WaPo screen grab)

Michigan Republicans are replacing lower-level elections officials with Donald Trump-loving conspiracy kooks, which could throw the next election into chaos.

The state was already a hotbed for conspiracy theories even before Joe Biden's election win, but there's been a hard-right turn since Trump's loss that has seen county-level officials at all shoved out and replaced by hyper-partisan Republicans -- sometimes under tremendous pressure, reported The Daily Beast.

"It's kind of scary looking ahead," said Jeff Timmer, a former executive director of Michigan's Republican Party, "because the Republicans are making no secret about their plans to create chaos and throw a wrench in the gears of the next election trying to put people in place who will go beyond what the law allows and do things in the next election that they didn't feel they had people in place to do in the last one."

Each county's canvassing board is staffed by two Republicans and two Democrats who are nominated by their local parties, and they are tasked with reviewing election data and certifying the results, but local GOP groups are replacing their members with outspoken conspiracy theorists.

"You can feel it in the air, you just knew," said Josephine Brown, who attended the Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" rally before she was nominated to be a canvasser in Wayne County. "There were Trump signs everywhere."

Monica Palmer, a GOP canvasser who was driven out of her post in Wayne County, said the replacements lack the experience to understand their responsibilities.

"My bigger concern is the removal of people like the canvasser in Genesee County, who had every intention of continuing on the board, who has 13 years of experience," Palmer said. "They replaced her with someone brand-new. So you're seeing, across the state, people with years of experience being replaced by people without experience. Losing that institutional knowledge is going to be a problem."

Republicans have nominated just one canvasser in some counties, possibly in violation of state rules, like in Macomb County, where nominee Nancy Tiseo urged Trump to use the military to overturn his election loss in a November tweet directed at the ousted president.

"Across the country there is a sad and systematic effort to create an alternate reality in which Donald Trump won the 2020 election," said David Knezek, a Democratic Wayne County commissioner. "Part of that effort is to seat canvassers who want to perpetuate this lie and call into question the validity of all elections across the country. Americans of both political parties must come together to put aside partisanship and protect our system of democracy by passionately advocating for the truth."

Timmer, the former Michigan GOP leader, fears his party is tunneling down into a "rabbit hole."

"There's no resistance within the Republican Party," he said. "They are wholly invested, almost to a person, in the delusional Big Lie that there was some widespread irregularity and malfeasance in the last election, and that they need to take extraordinary steps, either by changing laws or in this case, changing elections personnel in order to fix a non-existent problem."