Pro-Trump Michigan state lawmaker sought access to voting machines

Daire Rendon, a vocal promoter of Trump’s baseless allegations of widespread fraud in the November election, said in the call that she wanted to perform an audit and needed access to the vote tabulator the city uses. to process ballots, clerk Sheryl Tussey told Reuters.

Tussey refused the request, the latest example of a multi-state effort by Trump supporters to gain unauthorized access to voting systems while promoting conspiracy theories about rigged voting machines. An April 28 Reuters investigation found eight breaches or attempted breaches in five US states.

Since then, several more have come to light, including the Markey effort, a lakeside town of around 2,300 people in the conservative, sparsely populated County Roscommon, which overwhelmingly backed Trump in 2020.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Michigan State Police investigated incidents of unauthorized access in several counties in the crucial state, which voted for Trump in 2016 and Democratic President Joe Biden in 2020.

Behind several breaches and attempts to access vote tabulators is the false belief that state-ordered upgrades or maintenance to voting systems would erase evidence of alleged fraud in the 2020 election. States claim that these processes have no impact on the ability of voting systems to save data from past elections.

Tussey said Rendon contacted her on March 20, 2021. “I didn’t think long. I just wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t think it was fair,” Tussey told Reuters.

Two other County Roscommon clerks told Reuters they had been approached in a similar manner. One said he was contacted by Rendon, who was photographed last year wearing a button with the letter “Q” on it, a symbol of the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory movement. One of the clerks wouldn’t confirm or deny whether it was Rendon who approached her.

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Rendon, whose constituency includes County Roscommon, did not respond to a request for comment. After Trump’s 2020 defeat, Rendon publicly embraced the “big lie” that widespread voter fraud robbed Trump of his victory.

Carol Asher, Denton Township Clerk in County Roscommon, said she found it odd that Rendon contacted her on a Saturday on her mobile phone rather than during office hours at work. Asher said Rendon was adamant that access had to be granted that weekend because other people working with Rendon were in town.

“If it was legit, you come here with a paper from the secretary of state or something,” said Asher, who like Tussey is a Republican. “I thought it was a bit strange, but I said ‘no, we could never allow it’.”

Rendon Asher’s approach was first reported by the Detroit News.

” ACCS INAPPROPRI “

Asher showed Reuters a copy of a statement, dated March 10, 2022, that she provided to Nessel’s office. The document detailed Rendon’s request, in the weeks following the 2020 election, to “go to Township Hall and allow him access to the vote tabulators.” Asher refused the request, according to the statement.

Nessel and state police launched their investigation at the request of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who revealed in February that an unauthorized party had “allegedly obtained inappropriate access to the compilation machines and data readers used in the township of Richfield and the county of Roscommon”, without giving details.

Richfield Township officials declined to comment.

On June 26, 2021, Ms. Rendon released a statement claiming she was in possession of “evidence pointing to systematic voter fraud in Michigan that occurred during the November 2020 election”. She did not disclose this evidence.

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Rendon’s statement came three days after a Republican-controlled Michigan state Senate committee released a much-anticipated report confirming there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. After Biden’s victory, Trump lobbied Republican lawmakers to intervene on his behalf to reverse his loss, and his campaign lawyers filed unsuccessful lawsuits in several states to try to prove fraud. electoral.

Carie Milburn, the Township of Roscommon clerk, said she was also approached by someone asking for access to her two vote tabulators. She did not name the individual, citing the ongoing investigation, but said she wondered why the person wanted access to his equipment, manufactured by Election Systems & Software LLC.

She pointed out that all the baseless conspiracy theories circulating at the time were about machines made by another company, Dominion Voting Systems. Both companies noted that election fraud allegations involving their machines have been repeatedly denied.

“I remember saying, ‘We have ES&S, we don’t have Dominion, so I don’t even know why you would want access to one of our machines,'” Milburn said, recalling the person responding that wanted to compare the two machines.

Milburn said she was approached on March 20, 2021, the same date Tussey was contacted by Rendon.

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