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Fake Michigan Certificate of Votes mailed to U.S. Senate after 2020 presidential vote, official says

A fake Certificate of Votes was submitted to the U.S. Senate following Michigan’s 2020 presidential election, an official testified Tuesday during a preliminary hearing for six people facing forgery and other charges for allegedly serving as false electors.

The “purported” Certificate of Votes didn't match an official document signed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and featuring the Michigan state seal, said Dan Schwager, who served in 2020-2021 as general counsel to the secretary of the Senate.

“We could tell it was not an authorized Certificate of Votes. It was a fake,” Schwager testified in Lansing District Court.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has charged 15 Republicans in the case. Investigators have said the group signed a document during a meeting at the Michigan Republican headquarters in December 2020, falsely stating they were the state’s “duly elected and qualified electors.”

The defendants have insisted that their actions were not illegal, even though Joe Biden won Michigan by nearly 155,000 votes over then-President Donald Trump, a result confirmed by a GOP-led state Senate investigation in 2021.

Fake electors in Michigan and six other battleground states sent certificates to Congress falsely declaring Trump the winner of the 2020 presidential election in their state, despite confirmed results showing he had lost. Michigan, Georgia and Nevada have charged fake electors. Republicans who served as false electors in Wisconsin agreed to a legal settlement in which they conceded that Biden won the election and that their efforts were part of an attempt to improperly overturn the 2020 results.

Schwager said Tuesday the false Michigan document arrived Jan. 5, 2021, to the U.S. Senate's mail services and that he reviewed it a few days later.

“The Michigan one came in a little bit late and so it was added to the collection of the other fake certificates,” he said.

Schwager also said it was “not uncommon to get one or two often really wacky submissions from people claiming to be electors that are way out there.”

“I think we get maybe one or two or three every four or eight years, or something,” he added.

Certificates of votes are opened by the vice president, and the votes counted by members of Congress.

Names listed on the fake Certificate of Votes for Michigan did not match a Certificate of Ascertainment, which confirms presidential election results and lists slates of electors. The actual Certificate of Votes contained lists of all votes given by Michigan’s 16 electors for president and vice president.

There was no Certificate of Ascertainment for the document listing Republican electors in Michigan, testified Miriam Vincent, acting director of Legal Affairs and Policy for the Office of the Federal Register.

Vincent said Tuesday that “materials purported to be Certificate of Votes from non-official sources” were received by her office which is part of the National Archives.

The return address listed the Michigan Republican Party, Vincent said.

When announcing charges last July, Nessel said the fake electors allegedly met Dec. 14, 2020, in the basement of the Michigan Republican Party headquarters “and signed their names to multiple certificates stating they were the duly elected and qualified electors for president and vice president.”

“These false documents were then transmitted to the United States Senate and National Archives in a coordinated effort to award the state’s electoral votes to the candidate of their choosing, in place of the candidates actually elected by the people of Michigan,” Nessel said in a statement.

In December, former Michigan GOP Communications Director Anthony Zammit testified that he believed an attorney for Trump’s campaign “took advantage” of some of the 15 Republicans.

Preliminary hearings don’t involve a jury and are for the judge to determine if there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the charges.

The hearing for six defendants who are having their cases heard together was scheduled to resume Wednesday. A seventh defendant, Kenneth Thompson, had his case postponed because his attorney didn’t show up. The other eight defendants will have preliminary examinations at later dates.