A Trump supporter who falsely claimed she was working for an “Election Integrity Commission” allegedly broke into a Michigan community center and tampered with a voting machine in January 2021.
Tera Jackson, 56, of Petoskey, is facing charges of common law fraud and aiding and abetting the unauthorized access of a computer,the Petoskey News-Review reports.
A warrant for Jackson's arrest was issued in March, and she was apprehended in October. However, the newspaper didn't report her arrest until Friday — more than a year after the incident — because reporters were unable to obtain information about the investigation from the Emmet County Sheriff's Department.
After being tipped off about Jackson's arrest by a third party last week, the newspaper obtained a charging affidavit by filing a public records request.
"The affidavit for Jackson’s case said she believed there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, and that she had been tasked with the assignment of retrieving the information stored on Cross Village Township’s machine. The sheriff’s department investigation determined that not to be the case," the newspaper reported. "Multiple conspiracy theories and inaccuracies spread following the 2020 presidential election, particularly online, and former President Donald Trump has continued to cast doubt on the validity of the results."
A Facebook page belonging to Jackson shows she was an ardent supporter of the former president and posted conspiracy theories related to the election.
According to the affidavit, Jackson had contacted a local computer technician, Allan Coveyou, and told him she was a member of the Election Integrity Commission, which does not exist. Jackson claimed she was working to retrieve data from voting machines across the state. She said the voting machine in Cross Village Township was the only one in the state from which data hadn't been retrieved, due to the lack of Internet service in the area. But she claimed that the data needed to be "cloned" quickly because it would soon be wiped clean.
Jackson asked Coveyou to meet with Cross Village Township Trustee Howard Wood to retrieve data from the machine.
Trustee Wood reportedly requested that Diane Keller, the township clerk for Cross Village, meet him at the community center on Jan. 14, 2021, so that he and Coveyou could access the machine. According to Keller, Wood did not tell her why he wanted her to meet him. Keller said Wood arrived with two other men who were wearing bulletproof vests, with one of them carrying a gun.
"She said Wood claimed they were there to do a 'forensic audit' of the election equipment, and asked to be let in to the storage room — at which point, they found the door had already been tampered with," the newspaper reported. "Diane Keller said her cellphone was out of battery, but that she encouraged the others to call the police. They said they would after they retrieved the data they needed, according to her."
According to the affidavit, Coveyou said even though the community center appeared to have been broken into, he proceeded to remove a computer from inside the voting machine.
"Mr. Coveyou said that when he looked at the computer, it contained a special USB connector which he did not have," the affidavit states. "Mr. Coveyou said the screw on the computer had been stripped. Given all this information, Mr. Coveyou said the police were called to investigate a possible break-in."
Jackson later told a sheriff’s investigator that “there was data on a satellite owned by Vatican City which would prove voter fraud had occurred in the United States.” Jackson added that “until this information could be obtained from a satellite, she needed to rely on information saved on voting machines." Jackson claimed she worked for a "Data Integrity Center," but she said the organization was so secretive that it would not confirm her employment.
The township is now faced with having to replace the voting machine at a cost of $3,000, which is a significant expense given its small budget.
Keller, the clerk, and her brother, Stephen Keller, who serves as township supervisor, said they just learned of Jackson's arrest this week.
“I mean, if it was just that someone, you know, kids broke in and messed with stuff in the (township) hall, people wouldn't be concerned,” Stephen Keller told the newspaper. “But people are concerned when it appears that someone was trying to tamper with election results, which I mean, that brings it up a whole level above people just messing around, and beyond just a simple breaking in.”
“I think it feels like there needs to be some push to further the investigation,” Stephen Keller added. “Because a year is a really long time for what looks like a pretty simple, simple case. But yeah, again, I'm not a cop. I'm not a policeman, so I don't you know.”
Sheriff Pete Wallin told the newspaper that "no further investigation was occurring," and he doesn't expect additional arrests.