Michigan charges 16 fake electors with meddling in 2020 election

Charges are the first levied against those accused of using the political system to overturn ex-US President Trump’s election loss.

An affidavit in support of an arrest warrant for the 16 fake electors
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has filed felony charges against numerous Republican leaders in the state, alleging they took part in a scheme to overturn the will of voters in the 2020 election [Jon Elswick/AP Photo]

Michigan has brought charges against 16 Republicans who acted as fake electors in an effort to hand the state’s electoral votes to former United States President Donald Trump during the 2020 presidential race.

Attorney General Dana Nessel filed felony charges against the fake electors on Tuesday, accusing them of a scheme to overturn the results, which showed Democrat Joe Biden winning the state.

“The false electors’ actions undermined the public’s faith in the integrity of our elections and, we believe, also plainly violated the laws by which we administer our elections in Michigan,” Nessel said in a statement.

Tuesday’s announcement represents the first time charges have been levelled against individuals accused of using the political system to help Trump roll back the will of the voters.

The fake electors include prominent political figures in the state, including Kathy Berden, head of the Republican National Committee’s Michigan chapter, and Marian Sheridan, the grassroots vice chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party.

They stand accused of forgery, conspiracy to commit forgery and conspiracy to commit election forgery. Sentences for those charges can range up to 14 years in prison.

The group allegedly gathered at the state’s Republican Party headquarters on December 14, 2020, the same day the real electors were set to cast their ballots.

Michigan, a pivotal battleground state, awards 16 Electoral College votes to whichever presidential candidate wins its popular vote — in this case, Biden. Electors are designated to cast those Electoral College votes, in a mostly ceremonial process.

The fake electors, however, signed their names to false documents casting the 16 Electoral College votes for Trump. Those documents were sent to the National Archives and Congress, which then counts the certificates for an official tally.

Michigan was one of seven closely-watched swing states where Republicans signed false certificates in an attempt to award Electoral College votes to Trump and tip the election in his favour.


Tuesday’s charges, however, underscored the lengths to which Trump’s allies were willing to go to overturn his loss, based on the false belief the vote had been “rigged” against the Republican leader.

Trump himself perpetuated the allegation that the 2020 election had been stolen through massive fraud, a claim for which there is no evidence.

But that belief remains pervasive among Trump’s supporters. It fuelled an attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, when a mob attempted to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College votes.

More than 1,000 people have since been charged with crimes related to the Capitol attack.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump also released a statement saying he is the target of a federal investigation into his role in the January 6 riot.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies