Republican efforts to breach Michigan’s voting machines underscore a national problem: report
A sign points the way toward the voting booths as voting commences in North Carolina's U.S. presidential primary election at Sharon Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. on March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane/File Photo

From Pennsylvania to Georgia to Michigan, far-right MAGA Republicans — falsely claiming that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump — have tried to access voting machines. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has called for an investigation of the MAGA Republican and conspiracy theorist who will likely be her opponent in the 2022 midterms: Matthew DePerno, a Big Lie promoter who, Nessel alleges, tried to inappropriately gain access to Michigan’s voting machines.

Nessel herself would not lead an investigation of DePerno and his “Stop the Steal” allies. Because it would be a conflict of interest, Nessel has proposed that a special prosecutor lead the investigation.

Washington Post reporters Patrick Marley and Tom Hamburger, in an article published on August 14, explain, “The expected Republican nominee, Nessel’s office wrote in a petition filed August 5, based on the findings of a state police investigation, was ‘one of the prime instigators’ of a conspiracy to persuade Michigan clerks to allow unauthorized access to voting machines. Others involved, according to the filing, included a state representative and Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf.”

DePerno, according to Marley and Hamburger, “has denied any wrongdoing, as has Leaf, the Barry County sheriff.”

“Once election officials lose control of voting machines, the machines can no longer be used because of the risk of hacking,” the Post journalists explain. “Moreover, voters can lose faith in the country’s electoral infrastructure when they hear about machines that have not been adequately protected, election experts warn.”

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson told the Post that attempts to “twist the arm of election officials to get them to turn over secure information” are illegal. And Benson said that law enforcement needs to take action “not just to hold accountable those who have been trying to interfere with the process, but to look at the connectivity to see if there is a broader connection — not just in our state, but beyond Michigan to Georgia and Ohio and other states where you see this happening.”

“Although the exact nature of connections between efforts in different states to breach machines remains unclear,” Marley and Hamburger note, “the situation in Michigan is similar to ones elsewhere in which allegedly unofficial and unauthorized investigators sought evidence of fraud by gaining access to voting equipment. Some of those named in the Michigan case have been connected to cases elsewhere.”

The Post reporters add, “In Colorado, the Mesa County clerk, Tina Peters, was indicted in March on charges stemming from her effort to allow allegedly unauthorized people to copy the hard drives of voting machines in her county. Peters has denied wrongdoing. In Coffee County, GA, a cybersecurity executive named in the Michigan case, Benjamin Cotton, said in court filings that he gained access to the county’s voting system information. In Pennsylvania, the secretary of state ordered the decertification of machines in Fulton County after she said they were improperly accessed by individuals seeking to investigate the 2020 election.”

Nessel’s case for an investigation of DePerno and his associates comes during some major races in her state, including a gubernatorial race. Democratic incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is up against GOP nominee Tudor Dixon, a far-right MAGA Republic who has promoted the Big Lie and falsely claimed that widespread voter fraud occurred in Michigan in 2020. Meanwhile, Benson — another incumbent Democrat who is also seeking reelection — is running against MAGA conspiracy theorist Kristina Karamo.