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Election Denial in Michigan

  • 0 Election Deniers currently hold statewide office with election oversight power.

  • 9 Election Deniers have held, or run for, statewide office since 2020.

The landscape in Michigan

Michigan has faced just about every type of Election Denier behavior in recent years. 

Pro-Trump Republicans tried to pass themselves off as legitimate presidential electors in 2020 and are now facing criminal charges. The state has endured a climate of political violence, including threats against election officials and a failed plot to kidnap the Governor. One former statewide candidate was charged in a voting machine breach, and another was sentenced to prison on a Jan. 6 charge. Election officials have been swamped by voting requests. A so-called constitutional sheriff has chased bogus claims of fraud. And Michigan’s 2020 election results were the subject of frivolous court claims that resulted in monetary sanctions against Sidney Powell and other lawyers.

Michigan’s links to Jan. 6 include two state legislators who were in Washington for the attack on the Capitol. More than 20 people have been arrested in the state and charged with crimes in relation to the attack. Genevieve Peters, an Election Denier who took part in a Stop the Steal rally in Michigan in November 2020 and was also in Washington on Jan. 6, resurfaced a year later working in the Macomb County Clerk’s office during the midterm election. And three members of Michigan’s Congressional delegation were among the 147 who voted to overturn 2020 election results.

The good news: Michigan is also a reminder that voters are the ultimate backstop. Election Deniers were on the ballot in 2022 for all three statewide offices that oversee voting. All three Election Deniers lost. The state has since expanded the freedom to vote and has plans to strengthen election security.

But Election Deniers can’t be ignored even when they lose. Kristina Karamo, an Election Denier who lost the Secretary of State’s race by 14 points in 2022—and still didn’t concede—was later elected Chair of the state Republican Party.

0 Election Deniers hold statewide Office right now.

Elections are run by the states. In Michigan, the Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State are the state officials responsible for overseeing elections. It’s up to them to make sure the will of the people is always respected.

Read more about The Roles of Our Elected Officials in Elections

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How Michigan compares

Every state runs its own elections, with its own laws and processes. Check out how Michigan compares with other states in its region when it comes to Election Deniers holding state election administration jobs.

Election Denial in Great Lakes States

Sitting official is an Election Denier

  1. In Illinois, the Executive Director is appointed by the Illinois State Board of Elections.
  2. In Wisconsin, the Administrator is appointed by the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Voter turnout over time

Voters are always the backstop against election denial, whether Election Deniers are already in office or vying for power. It’s important to turn out for every election in your state—and to vote in every race on your ballot. Downballot races, like contests for Attorney General and Secretary of State, have historically drawn fewer voters, even though the positions are critical to keeping elections free, fair, and secure. Here’s a look at voter participation in Michigan elections over time. Notice that in years with several important positions up for election, some voters choose not to vote in every race.

Voter Participation in Michigan Since 2016

Attorney General
Secretary of State
  1. 2016 Presidential

    • President had a 65% voter turnout rate

  2. 2018 Midterm

    • Senator had a 57% voter turnout rate

    • Governor had a 57% voter turnout rate

    • Attorney General had a 55% voter turnout rate

    • Secretary of State had a 56% voter turnout rate

  3. 2020 Presidential

    • President had a 74% voter turnout rate

    • Senator had a 73% voter turnout rate

Voter turnout

Data on the number of votes cast in each race are from state elections depositories, supplemented with data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), House Election Statistics, and The Book of States. Rates are calculated using the Census’s Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) estimates. Rates will be updated when the Census releases new CVAP data for 2022.

Beyond the ballot box

Each year, state legislators introduce thousands of bills related to elections. And in the past few years, we’ve identified a concerning trend. Across the country, state legislatures are considering bills that would make it easier for partisan actors to manipulate an election, and maybe even overturn the will of the people. We’re tracking these bills along with our partners in an ongoing series of reports called “A Democracy Crisis in the Making.” In 2023 alone, through early May, we tracked 185 bills introduced in 38 state legislatures that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with elections. 

The anti-democracy playbook is simple: change the rules and change the referees, in order to change the results. These bills go hand-in-hand with the Election Denier movement: They’re about taking power away from voters and making it harder for trusted election officials to do their jobs.

Read the full report

Legislative Interference in Michigan by Category

As of May 3, 2023, no bills had been introduced or were under consideration in Michigan. None have been enacted or adopted and none have been vetoed after passing.

  • Usurping control over election results.
    These bills would give legislators or other state officials direct control over election outcomes.
  • Requiring partisan or unprofessional election “audits” or reviews.
    These bills would establish vague post-election review schemes without the professional standards of traditional audits.
  • Seizing power over election responsibilities.
    These bills would shift election administration responsibilities away from professional, nonpartisan officials and toward partisan actors in the legislature.
  • Creating unworkable burdens in election administration.
    These bills would interfere with the basic procedures of election administration, increasing the risk of chaos and delay and enabling misleading claims of irregularity.
  • Imposing disproportionate criminal or other penalties.
    These bills would create or expand penalties for election officials in the ordinary execution of their jobs, including criminalizing inadvertent mistakes.