DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 02: Workers with the Detroit Department of Elections sort through absentee ballots at the Central Counting Board in the TCF Center on November 2, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. With record-breaking early voting turnout, Americans will head to the polls tomorrow for the last chance to cast their vote for incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. (Photo by Elaine Cromie/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 02: Workers with the Detroit Department of Elections sort through absentee ballots at the Central Counting Board in the TCF Center on November 2, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. With record-breaking early voting turnout, Americans will head to the polls tomorrow for the last chance to cast their vote for incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. (Photo by Elaine Cromie/Getty Images)

“The American people, at some point in time, if we can’t change the tide, which I believe we can, we need to be prepared to lock and load,” state Senate candidate Mike Detmer said during a campaign event over the weekend. “You asked what can we do? Show up armed.”


Need to Know

  • Mike Detmer previously said that people guilty of committing nonexistent fraud during the 2020 election should be killed via firing squad.
  • Gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley told supporters that they should “unplug” voting machines from the wall if they saw something they didn’t like. 
  • The Republican-led Oversight Committee in the Michigan Senate published a report rejecting claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent. The Associated Press also found only 56 possible cases of fraud in Michigan, representing .04% of Biden’s margin of victory.

MICHIGAN–A Republican candidate for state Senate in Michigan encouraged supporters to “show up armed” to the polls to protect Republican election observers, while a candidate for governor encouraged them to tamper with voting machines if they think they see something suspicious.

The comments made by Mike Detmer, who’s running for state Senate in Howell, and Ryan Kelley, the gubernatorial candidate, were made at an event over the weekend in Livingston County and captured on video by Kelley’s campaign.

During the event, someone in the crowd claimed that Republican election officials had been “manhandled” and “pushed” out of the TCF Center in Detroit in 2020 as absentee ballots were being counted after the presidential election. The unidentified individual asked what could be done to “protect people.”

“Are you armed?” Detmer replied. “The ideal thing is to do this peacefully … But the American people, at some point in time, if we can’t change the tide, which I believe we can, we need to be prepared to lock and load.”

He continued: “You asked what can we do? Show up armed.”

In reality, election officials have made clear that they allowed the maximum number of poll watchers and restricted access to other observers only because of COVID-19 concerns.

This isn’t Detmer’s first encounter with controversy. He has defended the far-right radical group The Proud Boys and said that people guilty of committing nonexistent fraud during the 2020 election should be killed via firing squad.

Kelley, meanwhile, told supporters they were trying to recruit more election workers, but advised attendees that they should interfere with the counting of votes if they saw something they didn’t like. 

“If you see something happening you don’t like happening with the machines, if you see something going on, unplug it from the wall,” Kelley said. “Take control of the narrative.”

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To be clear, there was no widespread voter fraud in Michigan during the 2020 election. The Republican-led Oversight Committee in the Michigan state Senate published a report rejecting former President Donald Trump’s claim that the election was fraudulent. 

“Our clear finding is that citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan,” state Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan), the committee chair, wrote in the report. “There is no evidence presented at this time to prove either significant acts of fraud or that an organized, wide-scale effort to commit fraudulent activity was perpetrated in order to subvert the will of Michigan voters.”

Elsewhere, a thorough review by the Associated Press found only 56 possible cases of fraud in Michigan, representing .04% of Biden’s margin of victory. Most of the cases involved two individuals suspected of submitting roughly 50 fraudulent requests for absentee ballots in Macomb, Wayne and Oakland counties. Even the conservative Heritage Foundation has documented only one case of voter fraud in Michigan during the 2020 election cycle.

Despite having their lies debunked time and time again, extreme candidates like Detmer and Kelley continue to sow distrust in the election process. Their comments also drew backlash from Dana Nessel, Michigan’s Attorney General, who noted that the actions Detmer and Kelley encouraged are illegal. 

She also raised a question of whether the Michigan Republican Party would tolerate such extreme positions. 

“Will @MIGOP condemn the encouragement of felonious acts by its candidates for office?,” she said. “Or is this cool now?