Michigan Republican candidates for governor Ryan Kelley, from left, Garrett Soldano, Tudor Dixon and Kevin Rinke appear at a debate in Grand Rapids, Mich., July 6, 2022. Michael Buck/AP

According to a leaked audio obtained by CNN, poll workers were instructed to break rules “secretly”

In the video, Wayne County Republican officials are seen telling poll workers to “secretly” break rules regarding cell phone and pen usage in order to counteract “bad stuff” happening during the election.

The aftermath of the 2020 American presidential election led to many republicans believing the results were invalid and eventually resulted in allegations of election fraud. GOP loyalists who hold that conviction to date formed a group known as the Election Integrity Force (EIF). 

The zoom call was held by the EIF on August 1, a day before the Michigan primaries. EIF founder and former state Sen. Patrick Colbeck claims in the call that “none of the constraints that they’re putting on this are legal.”

Cheryl Constantino, the GOP county chairwoman, was noted saying this about cell phone usage during the primaries:

“I would say maybe just hide it or something, and maybe hide a small pad and a small pen or something like that because you need to take accurate notes.”

Cheryl Constantino, CNN Leaked Audio

When confronted by poll-workers about the legality of the matter and the chances of them being thrown out of the polling stations, she added: “That’s why you got to do it secretly.”

Even while political parties and nonprofits have traditionally provided training for volunteer partisan observers in Michigan, the Wayne County GOP also invited poll workers, who are employed by and receive compensation from the county clerk’s office. They are in charge of the election process and are responsible for tasks such as verifying voter eligibility, tallying votes, and securing ballot boxes and voting machines. 

According to the Michigan Bureau of Elections, poll workers must undergo non-partisan training approved by the local clerk and are solely labeled as Republicans to ensure there is equal representation of both major parties working the election.

Poll-workers have clearly outlined guidelines and rules to follow when it comes to overseeing the proceedings of an election, which is why partisan training and guidelines risk undermining a fair election process. 

Election experts fear that the approach used by the GOP could create chaos in the mid-term and 2024 elections.

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