Michigan’s Attorney General prepares for legal battles, unrest and misinformation leading up to election

More than 2 million absentee ballots requested

How state officials are preparing for the upcoming election

LANSING, Mich. – In the weeks leading up to the election, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office is “planning for every contingency” including misinformation, legal fights and the potential for violent unrest.

The biggest concern is the sheer number of ballots that will need to be counted. Nessel said counting millions of expected absentee votes will take days and said worries over whether an attempt to stop the count before all the votes are tallied will be challenged in court.

READ: Democrats face quandary on vaccine support as election nears

“We have seen some messaging out of the white house … If President Trump is in the lead election night over Vice President Biden that he plans to declare himself the victor,” she said. “If there is an effort for one candidate or another to declare victory on the night of the election. We are going to have to make certain that everyone knows that, that’s not true … If there are any legal proceedings to try and stop the count of course we are going to vigorously contest that.”

More than 2 million absentee ballots have been requested, according to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office. A recent ruling from a federal court judge ruled in Nessel’s favor, allowing ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 to be counted even if they arrive after the election on Nov. 3. The count isn’t officially certified until 14 days after election day. Under current state law, county clerks aren’t allowed to begin processing or counting ballots until election day. Early voting begins Sept. 24 and Nessel recommended voters send their absentee ballots in by Oct. 13.

READ: Judge: Postal Service must process election mail on time

There are also fears over whether violent unrest could break out as the ballots are being counted, after reports of Democratic advisors writing their own plans to combat unrest. Last week, a senior administration official told people to buy guns and ammunition before election day. That official, Michael Caputo, who was a top communications official at HHS has since taken a medical leave of absence.

“Do I think that will happen? I don’t. But are we prepared for it to happen? Absolutely,” Nessel said.

That preparation also includes working with social media companies like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube to monitor any groups looking to make trouble for voters.

READ: November election: What do you need to know before voting?

“We are going to be working directly with them so that if there’s any coordination of any sorts of groups that intend to go to the polls to use voters suppression or to be threatening in any manner,” she said.

Nessel added that also went for any members of federal law enforcement or the military who may be deployed to polling locations, as the President has suggested he may order.

“In the event that the President intends to send the army to the polls we intend to send an army to the courts to stop that from happening,” Nessel said. It is illegal at both the federal and state level to send “troops or armed men” to polling locations.

READ: Supreme Court fight could elevate Kamala Harris' profile

The Attorney General also warned of misinformation online, over the phone and potentially in person. She encouraged anyone who sees potential election misinformation to email the secretary of state’s office using misinformation@michigan.gov and visit the related website which has section on how to identify misinformation, an example and fact checks of reported misinformation.


About the Author:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.