Fake Electors Scheme: Wyoming Mayor Facing Calls to Resign After Charges Filed

The affidavit in support of an arrest warrant for 16 fake Republican electors for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election in Michigan is photographed Tuesday, July 18, 2023. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has charged 16 Republicans with multiple felonies after they are alleged to have submitted false certificates stating they were the state's presidential electors despite Joe Biden's 154,000-vote victory in 2020. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

By Lisa Hayes

August 8, 2023

Residents of Wyoming—the second-largest city in Kent County—are calling for Mayor Kent Vanderwood to resign, after the 69-year-old was charged with multiple felonies for his role in the fake electors scheme after the 2020 US presidential election.

How we got here:

July 2023: Attorney General Dana Nessel filed charges against Michigan’s 16 “fake electors” who participated in the scheme to hand the presidency to Donald Trump in 2020. 

Those charges are:

  • One count of Conspiracy to Commit Forgery, a 14-year felony
  • Two counts of Forgery, a 14-year felony
  • One count of Conspiracy to Commit Uttering and Publishing, a 14-year felony
  • One count of Uttering and Publishing, a 14-year felony
  • One count of Conspiracy to Commit Election Law Forgery, a 5-year felony
  • Two counts of Election Law Forgery, a 5-year felony

July 2023: Wyoming residents ask city officials if there’s a way to remove the mayor from office. (Short answer: Not unless the mayor committed a felony while in his current position. Vanderwood was elected to his first term as mayor in August 2022. Prior to that, he was a city council member for 16 years.)  Here’s a Facebook post with the City’s response.

Aug. 4, 2023: Vanderwood was arraigned and his bond was set at $1,000. His attorney issued a statement disputing Nessel’s charges.

Aug. 7, 2023: The Wyoming City Council met for the first time since Vanderwood’s charges were filed. Dozens of people attended, with a majority there to criticize his involvement in the fake elector scheme and to demand that he step down from his position. 

Vanderwood’s preliminary examination hearing is scheduled for Aug. 24, 2023.

 

What you should know about the fake elector scheme:

In late 2020, MAGA Republicans in seven states launched an effort to overturn the results of the presidential election. The plan was to appoint fake electors who would certify their state’s electoral votes for Trump—even though they already knew he’d lost the election to Joe Biden. That’s because states certify their electoral votes in the December following a November presidential election. 

Those seven states were: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

According to the bipartisan January 6th Select Committee’s Final Report, that fake elector scheme “led directly” to the violent and deadly Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol.  

Here in Michigan, a group of 16 Republicans allegedly had a secret meeting on Dec. 14, 2020, in the basement of the Michigan Republican Party headquarters in Lansing. At that meeting, they signed their names to multiple certificates falsely claiming they were Michigan’s “duly elected and qualified electors for the president and vice president of the United States,” and that they’d convened at the State Capitol to certify the election. 

In reality, they’d tried to convene at the Capitol building but had been denied entry by the Michigan State Police. 

They then mailed their fake documents to the National Archives, the President of the US Senate, and the Archivist of the United States, as though they were the legitimate election certificates.

Michigan’s actual presidential electors—who were constitutionally obligated to cast their votes for Joe Biden because he won the election by 7 million votes nationwide, including a clear popular vote majority in Michigan—had met that same afternoon inside the state Capitol to fulfill their duty to voters.

The fake electors’ “desperate plan,” as Nessel called it in a statement, failed. Biden was sworn in as president a month later, and every serious challenge to the 2020 election since has been denied, dismissed, or otherwise rejected as a conspiracy theory or outright lie.

 

Learn more:

  • Check out Part 1 and  Part 2 of our “Where Are They Now?” fake elector videos from December.
  • Meet six fake electors in this special edition newsletter, which we sent to subscribers on the second anniversary of the scheme.
  • Want to see all of our “Bad Apples” video series, highlighting bad actors in Michigan with positions of power? Here you go

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