Lansing, Mich. ––Now that the Michigan Republican Party has officially endorsed 2020 election denier Kristina Karamo for secretary of state, many of the state’s election clerks are beginning to reckon with the “real threat” they say she poses to future elections if elected.
“I would like to believe there are enough civil servants in that department [of State], or would still be in that department to help guide Michigan election administration forward,” said Ingham County Clerk Barb Bynum, a Democrat. “But she is a real threat to our elections in the state of Michigan. Or she would be a real threat to our elections [if she is elected].”
A political newcomer, Karamo rose to prominence in the aftermath of the 2020 election, where she allegedly witnessed voter fraud in the form of illegal vote counting while volunteering as a poll watcher at the TCF Center in Detroit.
Karamo’s claims have been widely disputed, and a GOP-led state Senate investigation found no evidence of widespread voter fraud during the 2020 election. What the 36 year-old former community college professor claims she witnessed that day was actually the result of her own misunderstanding of the election procedures in Michigan.
Under Michigan law, poll watchers and election challengers—including Karamo in 2020—do not need to receive formal training in election procedure prior to working on Election Day.
Election clerks say this should change.
“Karamo’s an example of why we need to train our election challengers, because [the fraud she witnessed] was a misunderstanding,” said Justin Roebuck, a Republican who has served as Ottawa County Clerk since 2014. “I think it’s important for our elected officials to have a thorough and deep knowledge of the processes that they would oversee.”
While it’s unclear whether Karamo has since received that training or learned more about the election process in Michigan, she has not backed down from her claims regarding 2020. On the contrary, she has consistently doubled down on those claims in appearances on Fox News and rallies with former President Donald Trump, who endorsed her candidacy last year.
For election clerks in Michigan, Karamo’s “lack of understanding” of how elections work in Michigan is a source of concern if she is elected in November.
“If you don’t understand election law, and you don’t understand election processes, you can’t go in and just recreate the world the way you see it to be,” said Democrat Mary Clark, Delta Township clerk and president of the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks. “We live in a real world, not a fantasy world.”