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Unique-Trump-backed Michigan legal professional basic candidate concerned in voting-system breach, paperwork present By Reuters


© Reuters. Republican candidate for Legal professional Basic of Michigan Matthew DePerno reacts as he’s acknowledged by former U.S. President Donald Trump on the Conservative Political Motion Convention (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas, U.S., August 6, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

By Nathan Layne

(Reuters) – The Republican nominee for Michigan legal professional basic led a staff that gained unauthorized entry to voting tools whereas looking for proof to help former President Donald Trump’s false election-fraud claims, in keeping with a Reuters evaluation of courtroom filings and public information.

The evaluation reveals that individuals working with Matthew DePerno – the Trump-endorsed nominee for the state’s high law-enforcement publish – examined a vote tabulator from Richfield Township, a conservative stronghold of three,600 individuals in northern Michigan’s Roscommon County.

The Richfield safety breach is one in every of 4 comparable incidents being investigated by Michigan’s present legal professional basic, Democrat Dana Nessel. Underneath state regulation, it’s a felony to hunt or present unauthorized entry to voting tools.

DePerno didn’t reply to a request for remark.

The involvement of a Republican legal professional basic nominee in a voting-system breach comes amid a nationwide effort by backers of Trump’s fraud falsehoods to win state places of work that might show important in deciding any future contested elections.

In Arizona final week, three Trump-backed candidates who declare the 2020 election was stolen gained Republican major elections for governor, legal professional basic and secretary of state, the highest official overseeing elections. In Pennsylvania, Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano has vowed to decertify any election he considers fraudulent by way of his appointed secretary of state. Michigan, Arizona and Pennsylvania are all presidential election battlegrounds.

Trump lavished reward on DePerno earlier than a big viewers this weekend on the Conservative Political Motion Convention in Dallas. “He’s going to ensure that you’re going to have regulation and order and truthful elections,” Trump stated, pumping his fist as DePerno stood up within the viewers and waved. “That’s an essential race.”

Reuters established the connection between Michigan’s DePerno and the Richfield voting-system breach by matching the serial variety of the township’s tabulator to {a photograph} in a publicly launched report written by a member of DePerno’s staff. The {photograph} confirmed a printed file of a vote-tabulator’s exercise, which additionally included a string of ten digits. Reuters confirmed that these numbers matched the serial variety of a Richfield vote tabulator by way of public information obtained from the township. State officers had beforehand recognized Richfield as the positioning of a voting-equipment safety breach.

DePerno had submitted the report as proof in a failed lawsuit difficult the 2020 election ends in a distinct Michigan county, Antrim. The report claimed that Dominion and ES&S election tools was susceptible to hacking and vote-rigging.

Reuters requested an election-security knowledgeable to assessment the supplies. Kevin Skoglund, president and chief technologist for the nonpartisan Residents for Higher Elections, an election-security advocacy group, stated the matching numbers point out that DePerno’s staff had entry to the Richfield Township tabulator or its knowledge drives.

DePerno led the “Michigan Antrim County Election Lawsuit & Investigation Crew,” which included himself, Detroit legal professional Stefanie Lambert, non-public investigator Michael Lynch, and James Penrose, a former analyst for the Nationwide Safety Company, in keeping with promotional materials for a July 2021 fundraising occasion in California sponsored by a conservative group that marketed appearances by DePerno’s staff members. Penrose, who had assisted different distinguished Trump allies of their efforts to overturn the 2020 election outcomes, authored the report that Reuters tied to a tabulator concerned within the Richfield Township safety breach.

Lambert, Lynch and Penrose didn’t reply to requests for remark.

The beforehand unreported hyperlink to GOP legal professional basic candidate DePerno and his associates comes as Democratic incumbent Nessel advances her probe, which she launched in February 2022. Nessel is in search of re-election, which might create a battle of curiosity if her political opponent turned a suspect in her workplace’s investigation. The legal professional basic’s workplace declined to touch upon the specifics of its investigation however stated Nessel would “take applicable steps to take away herself and her division ought to a battle come up.”

Nessel’s workplace began investigating the voting-system safety breaches after a request from Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. In a February assertion, Benson stated that “at the least one unnamed third celebration” had gained entry to tabulation machines and knowledge drives from Richfield Township and Roscommon County.

Jake Rollow, a spokesperson for the secretary of state, stated the workplace doesn’t consider DePerno’s staff had authorized approval to entry ES&S voting tools. Rollow declined to remark additional on the legal professional basic’s investigation however emphasised its significance. “To make sure Michigan’s elections are safe sooner or later, there have to be penalties now for the individuals who illegally accessed the state’s voting machines,” he stated.

ES&S didn’t reply to requests for remark.


Voting and vote-counting tools is topic to strict chain-of-custody necessities to make sure accuracy and guard in opposition to fraud. Entry to tabulators is tightly restricted, and any machine compromised by an unauthorized individual is often taken out of fee.

The 4 circumstances being investigated by Nessel are amongst at the least 17 incidents recognized by Reuters nationwide during which Trump supporters gained or tried to realize unauthorized entry to voting tools. Michigan accounts for 11 of them, reflecting how conspiracy theorists sought to capitalize on an error within the preliminary reporting of 2020 ends in Antrim County to allege widespread fraud within the state, with out proof.

A state assessment of the Antrim County incident discovered {that a} failure to correctly replace software program brought on a pc glitch that resulted in county officers initially reporting Joe Biden because the winner of the reliably Republican county. The officers shortly acknowledged and corrected the error, and Trump’s victory was affirmed by a hand tally of each vote forged.

DePerno seized on the confusion, submitting a lawsuit making the unfounded declare that tabulators made by Colorado-based Dominion Voting Programs had been rigged to flip votes from Trump to Biden in Antrim County.

“No proof of machine fraud or manipulation within the 2020 election has ever been offered in Michigan or every other state, and courts in Michigan and elsewhere have dismissed such claims as baseless,” Dominion spokesman Tony Fratto stated.

In early December 2020, thirteenth Circuit Courtroom Decide Kevin Elsenheimer granted DePerno’s authorized staff permission to take forensic photos of Antrim County voting tools to seek for proof of election fraud. The courtroom order was restricted to Antrim, the place solely Dominion tools was used. The order didn’t lengthen to different jurisdictions or machines made by different voting-system suppliers.

But DePerno’s staff submitted two stories in April 2021 to the courtroom that exposed that they had additionally examined tools made by Election Programs & Software program (ES&S).

The report written by Penrose, dated April 9, contained {a photograph} of a “abstract tape” with details about a tabulator’s exercise on election night time, equivalent to when outcomes have been submitted to the county. Amongst different issues, the tape confirmed a sequence of figures: 0317350497.

That’s the serial quantity for one in every of two ES&S DS200 tabulators Richfield Township used in the course of the 2020 vote, in keeping with copies of paperwork obtained by Reuters by way of a public-records request.

Skoglund, the election-security specialist consulted by Reuters, stated the matching numbers point out that the report’s writer had entry to both Richfield’s tabulator or a knowledge drive containing the outcomes and different data on the machine.

“There’s little doubt in my thoughts that the Penrose {photograph} is output from that very same DS200 — that he had bodily hands-on entry,” Skoglund instructed Reuters.

A second individual conversant in the workings of ES&S voting tools examined the information obtained by Reuters and concurred that the tabulator tape proven within the Penrose report matches the machine with the identical serial quantity.


The Penrose report was a part of a sequence of submissions from DePerno’s staff that did not persuade Decide Elsenheimer. At an April 12, 2021 listening to, the decide shut down DePerno’s try and subpoena a number of Michigan counties for entry to election knowledge and tools.

DePerno gave an interview later the identical day to 2 right-wing web sites, Gateway Pundit and 100 P.c Fed Up. DePerno stated that Penrose had examined an ES&S machine. He added that the staff had additionally checked out Dominion tools “outdoors of Antrim County.” The legal professional stated he did not contemplate Elsenheimer’s ruling a dead-end.

“Possibly there shall be some county someplace that decides to come back ahead and cooperate. That will be good,” DePerno instructed the web sites.

In actuality, DePerno’s associates had already taken possession of voting machines from native officers in Richfield Township in Roscommon County and Lake Township in Missaukee County, in keeping with police information and textual content messages acquired by way of public information requests.

Lynch, the non-public investigator who labored with DePerno on his Antrim county case, exchanged texts with Lake Township clerk Korinda Winkelmann on March 20, 2021. Lynch requested for assist accessing a Dominion gadget she had supplied to him, in keeping with the messages, obtained by Reuters by way of a public-records requests. Winkelman shared with Lynch an operational handbook and a password for the gadget, whereas additionally speculating on how election techniques is perhaps rigged.

Lynch had no authorization to look at the machine, and the incident stays beneath state investigation. Winkelmann didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Elsenheimer dismissed the Antrim swimsuit in Might 2021, a choice that was affirmed this 12 months by the Michigan Courtroom of Appeals. DePerno’s fraud claims have been extensively debunked. A Republican-led Michigan Senate committee issued a scathing report in June 2021 that known as DePerno’s numerous allegations “demonstrably false.”

In September 2021, Trump endorsed DePerno because the Republican nominee for Michigan legal professional basic, praising his pursuit of “truthful and correct elections” and his ongoing effort to “reveal the reality in regards to the Nov. 3 presidential election rip-off.”

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