Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Monday charged Trenae Myesha Rainy, Carless Clark and Nancy Juanita Williams in connection with fraud. A state investigation resulted in accusations that the women purposefully filled out ballot applications and ballots incorrectly during the November 2020 general election.
Officials said the outcomes of the investigations prove Michigan’s anti-fraud measures are effective, as only one of the instances was caught after the end of voting. Less than 1% of the 5.5 million votes in Michigan have thus far been tied to election fraud.
Nessel and Benson said the state "won’t hesitate" to hold accountable any individual caught committing such offenses.
"Our election system is secure, and today's charges demonstrate that in the rare circumstances when fraud occurs we catch it and hold the perpetrators accountable," Benson said in a statement.
Williams attempted to control absentee ballots for largely incapacitated individuals under her care, submitting voter registrations on their behalf. Rainey filled out applications and forged signatures for residents at an assisted living facility who had not yet verified they were interested in voting.
Both instances were caught in Oct. 2020. Williams submitted 26 absentee ballots, and Rainey submitted 3 – all of which were caught via the signature matching process.
Only Clark was caught after the election, and her crime resulted in one fraudulent vote: Clark admitted to the state Board of Elections that she signed her grandson’s absentee ballot and submitted it, claiming she was concerned he wouldn’t have time to do so himself.
State officials hope that the charges will show that the state’s systems work and will work towards proving that "widespread fraud" did not occur.
"These charges also send a clear message to those who promote deceitful claims about widespread fraud: the current protocols we have in place work to protect and ensure the integrity of our elections. It's time to share that truth and stop spreading lies to the contrary," Benson said.
Arraignment is not yet scheduled for Clark and Rainy, but Williams will appear in court on Nov. 2: She will, however, face charges in up to five different courts around Wayne County.
Wayne faces a total of 42 charges, including numerous counts of false statement in absentee ballot application, forging signatures on absentee ballot application and election law forgery – the last of which carries a punishment of five years.