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Michigan GOP chair puts focus on investigation into alleged 2020 voter registration fraud

Kristina Karamo speaking into a microphone at an event
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Kristina Karamo became the chair of the Michigan Republican Party earlier this year.

Michigan Republican Party leadership discussed several topics from the 2020 election to plans for next year’s presidential primary during a press conference Thursday morning.

The party called reporters to its new Lansing offices to discuss recently renewed interest in a voter registration probe that took place in Muskegon during the 2020 election cycle.

According to a report from the Muskegon police obtained by Michigan Public Radio via the Freedom of Information Act, the investigation began when City of Muskegon Clerk Ann Meisch alerted authorities to suspected fraud on absentee voter registration forms.

The report says Meisch’s office received several forms that included errors like non-existent addresses and invalid phone numbers. The police report says those forms had been turned in by a canvasser for the group, GBI Strategies. It appears to be akin to what happened with petition signatures gathered for gubernatorial candidates last year.

Police seized 42 forms suspected to be fraudulent. The state police also got involved before handing the investigation off to the FBI in March of 2021.

“The primary individuals in the matter were believed to have left Michigan at this time, the employer GBI Strategies was based in Tennessee, and the organization was in operation in multiple states,” Michigan Attorney General spokesperson Danny Wimmer said in an email explaining the handoff.

Despite the continued investigation, the MIGOP is using new articles from the conservative platform, the Gateway Pundit, to claim evidence of corruption. The Gateway Pundit has published falsehoods about the 2020 election and other misinformation.

The FBI declined to comment on the Muskegon investigation.

There’s no evidence anyone successfully registered or fraudulently voted as a result of the alleged attempt to submit faulty registration forms.

Election results in the 2020 election have been confirmed by several dozen audits and investigations, including one led by Republican state Senator Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan).

Still, he argued the Muskegon investigation is worth a deeper dive. He warned dismissing concerns as crazy only fuels conspiracy theories, saying the FBI is taking too long to investigate.

“We need answers about why it has. The other thing though, that people should recognize, is that this is not tantamount or evidence that the election itself is stolen,” McBroom said.

Outside of highlighting “smoke” around the Muskegon case, MIGOP party leadership gave an update on its plans for handling the state’s presidential primary election next year.

Chair Kristina Karamo said the party is close to finalizing a plan that would allow the party to keep all of its delegates to the Republican National Convention next year.

That’s after a new state law moved Michigan’s presidential primary election up to February, in violation of the Republican National Committee’s rules.

The change threatened to penalize the state party’s representation at the convention, possibly taking it from 55 to 12 delegates.

Karamo said she’s been working with the national committee on a hybrid plan to avoid that.

“We have the primary election and a convention model. So, it’s very unique but it was necessary to protect the voters statewide, the Republican voters statewide, to make sure they have a say and make sure that we actually fully have a say at the RNC convention in July,” Karamo said.

Karamo added she hopes to announce plan specifics in the coming weeks.

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