A row of voting booths at a polling station. (Image via Shutterstock)
A row of voting booths at a polling station. (Image via Shutterstock)

BY JON KING, MICHIGAN ADVANCE

MICHIGAN—A lawsuit filed in Kent County Circuit Court Wednesday seeks damages against 16 Michigan Republicans who submitted fraudulent electoral certificates that falsely claimed former President Donald Trump won the state in 2020.

Democratic President Joe Biden defeated Trump by more than 154,000 votes to win all 16 of Michigan’s electoral votes. That was a far bigger margin than Trump’s 2016 Michigan win by less than 11,000 votes over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The Detroit News says the suit was filed by three of Michigan’s actual presidential electors, Blake Mazurek of Kent County, Robin Smith of Ingham County and Timothy Smith of Ottawa County, who were among 16 official electors who cast votes for Biden at the state Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020. 

That was the same day that the Electoral College met to certify the state’s election results. 

However, the false electors, who included Michigan GOP Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock, wrongfully stated that Trump won. They also falsely claimed they had “convened and organized” in the state Capitol, when in reality some of the electors walked several blocks to the Capitol, where they were denied access, after meeting at the Lansing headquarters of the Michigan Republican Party.

Michigan is one of seven key states where Republicans had false elector slates.

The lawsuit seeks damages of at least $25,000, claiming that the plaintiffs “suffered humiliation, mental anguish and stress as a result of being cast in the false light created by defendants’ election fraud and lies.”

It also requests a judge declare the “fake elector scheme was illegal under Michigan law.”

The suit was filed less than a week after Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced she was reopening her office’s investigation into the fake elector scheme, saying there was “clear evidence to support charges.”

Nessel originally sent a referral for an investigation in January 2022 to the US attorney’s office for the Western District of Michigan, but decided to reopen the state investigation based on the report by the US House Jan. 6 select committee.

Among the documents obtained by the committee was a memo by one of the fake electors, Michigan Republican National Committeewoman Kathy Berden, that indicated she sent the fake certificate to the US Senate, the US archivist, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Robert Jonker, chief judge of US District Court for Michigan’s Western District.

“I think that type of activity can’t go without any consequences,” said Nessel.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants violated several laws, including election law forgery and obstructing or attempting to obstruct “any elector in the exercise” of their duties,” and that the “scheme attempted to subvert the sacred right of qualified voters in Michigan, enshrined in the state Constitution, to have their votes counted.”

Several of the fake electors have claimed they were unaware of what they were signing. One of them, Michele Lundgren, who unsuccessfully ran for the Legislature last year, told the Detroit Free Press they had been “wrongly persuaded to come to Lansing and sign a blank piece of paper.”

This story was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license.