Michigan county hiring Jan. 6 attendee for poll worker training ‘alarming and chilling’: secretary of state

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Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson spoke with Detroit radio station WDET about the election process on Monday, decrying the employment of a Jan. 6 attendee as a trainer for poll workers.

Macomb County Clerk Anthony Forlini hired Genevieve Peters — a social media influencer who was present at both the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol and a “Stop the Steal” protest outside Benson’s home — in May of this year to serve as a trainer for poll workers.

Benson alluded to Peters specifically as a threat to the election’s integrity in her Monday interview with WDET.

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Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks during the Get Out the Vote Rally in Detroit, Oct. 29, 2022.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks during the Get Out the Vote Rally in Detroit, Oct. 29, 2022.
(Dominick Sokotoff/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“I think it’s alarming, and it’s chilling, the decision that the clerk made,” Benson said in the interview. “Mostly because we know how important it is to protect the process from those who may seek to interfere or disrupt it.”

“But we also want to be transparent, and we also want to welcome people into the process with a very clear understanding of what the rules and the laws are,” she added.

Benson is running for re-election against Trump-endorsed Republican challenger Kristina Karamo.

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Republican candidate for Secretary of State Kristina Karamo waves to the crowd before she speaks during a Save America rally on Oct. 1, 2022, in Warren, Michigan.

Republican candidate for Secretary of State Kristina Karamo waves to the crowd before she speaks during a Save America rally on Oct. 1, 2022, in Warren, Michigan.
(Emily Elconin/Getty Images)

Karamo recently lost a lawsuit that sought to prevent Detroit’s absentee ballots from being counted in the midterm election. 

The Republican challenger sought to block the ballots on the grounds that Detroit is too corrupt and too compromised to be trusted counting the ballots accurately. A judge threw out the lawsuit for lack of evidence.

The secretary of state also took the interview opportunity on Monday to warn of increased security and federal law enforcement, saying, “We hope for the best, and we expect the best, but we will have people all throughout the state, including local state and federal law enforcement to enforce the law if anyone at any point in any stage in the process steps out of line, intimidates voters, or tries to interfere or disrupt the elections.”

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In this screenshot from the DNCC’s livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson addresses the virtual convention on Aug. 20, 2020. 

In this screenshot from the DNCC’s livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson addresses the virtual convention on Aug. 20, 2020. 
(DNCC via Getty Images)

Benson claimed during the WDET interview that outside influencers are “certainly” going to attempt disrupting the process.

“There are certainly going to be efforts potentially to interfere with the smoothness of that process, but we’ve got over 50 people in the field — a number of others, ready to go — to immediately intervene if there is any attempt to disrupt the process so that voters can feel safe and know that their voice and their vote is protected,” Benson told WDET.