A Michigan lawsuit, Karamo v. Winfrey, was filed on October 26 by Michigan GOP secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo. It calls into question absentee ballots cast in Detroit because of the city’s use of Relia-Vote machines to verify signatures. According to Karamo, Detroit uses an “illegal “all-in-one” voting machine from Relia-Vote to process absentee ballots,” brought into Detroit in 2020 by none other than Mark Zuckerberg.

The promotional material on Relia-Vote’s website states that its machines “keep track of every ballot from start to finish and eliminate error-prone manual processes to help ensure election transparency for constituents.” As of October 24, the “city of Detroit had received 80,607 absentee ballot applications, had sent out 78,563, and received 35,629 completed ballots, according to data from the Secretary of State’s office.” The voting machine company states that vote-by-mail is not going away.

Relia-Vote/Promotional Material

The lawsuit states:

The City of Detroit used an unauthorized technology within the electronic voting system illegally during the August 2, 2022, Primary election for signature comparison.

Chris Thomas, Senior Advisor to the Clerk of the City of Detroit, office has reported that the city used an artificial intelligence system called Relia-vote to make digital signature comparisons.

Subsequently, records were made public that showed that Detroit had received a $750,000 grant from The Center for Tech and Civil Living (CTCL) widely known as “Zuckerbucks” to purchase this system.

The lawsuit claims Relia-Vote is used to interface with the Qualified Voter File “without the configuration being disclosed to the public, without any apparent oversight by the Board of State Canvassers.” The lawsuit adds, “there is no authority in the law to have the Relia-Vote system and its artificial intelligence replace the Detroit Board of Election Inspectors and to use a digital comparison of the signatures to augment the clerk.”

UncoverDC was on a conference call Friday with Karamo, who stated, “the machines were provided to “verify” the signatures.” However, signatures are verified without the procedures required by law. Per the lawsuit, “verification of identity in a process described in MCL 168.761(2) through signature comparison to the Qualified Voter File (QVF). Karamo also explained that the adjudication process being used is illegal and ballots are being “duplicated” in ways “outside the law.”

Karamo has asked the court to block absentee ballots submitted by mail or drop box because of issues with drop boxes and signature verification. The lawsuit asks the judge to require citizens to vote in person or obtain their ballots in person at the clerk’s office.

History Behind the New System

According to the lawsuit, it was the 2018 Initiated Act that allowed for “absentee voter boards, and many laws were altered to further this OPTIONAL process.” Michigan also “dramatically increased the use of absentee voting” at the time. Prior to the Act, absentee voting “had been restricted to widespread no-excuse absentee voting.” The new process permitted jurisdictions to “form an optional process to collect absentee ballots and count the absentee ballots at an absentee voter counting board “AVCB”. MCL 168.764D.” Detroit opted for a counting center that included all city precincts located at the TCF center, now known as the Huntington Center. Multiple AVCBs were used to count precincts, which was a “failure,” as evidenced by the issues seen during the 2020 election. Elections have continued to be conducted in this manner, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states the “signature comparison process remains undefined.” The Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson was required by the “Michigan Court of Claims in Genetski & Michigan Republican Party v. Jocelyn Benson and Johnathan Brater to make rules for signature comparison,” but no rules were made.

In other words, Benson “watered down the signature verification requirements so much, if someone had what looked to be the letter “i” in their name and it somewhat looked like there may or may not have been an “i” in their signature you were supposed to approve it. It was actually heartbreaking to see what Benson did. What she did was tantamount to invite and enable illegal votes to be cast.” The lawsuit also clarifies that the “lack of  signature standard means that the process involving a mailed-in ballot application or online registration is unlawful.”

Drop Boxes Potentially Disenfranchise Voters

Drop boxes are also addressed in the complaint. The plaintiffs maintain that ballots returned to drop boxes and the post office removes the necessary process of human observation. U.S. Mail collection boxes are not protected by cameras. As such, the only “method for identification is the signature comparison” process, potentially leaving room for “unqualified voters to cast ballots.” The lawsuit states improperly monitored drop boxes and mail collection boxes violate the law and election rules. In addition, the lawsuit seeks to demonstrate that multiple ballots were regularly dropped off during the 2020 election, which is a felony in the state. The potential for illegal ballot trafficking continues, according to Karamo.

Unauthorized Process for Duplication of Ballots

In Michigan, the duplication of ballots is allowed only “when the ballot is “so damaged or defective that it cannot be properly counted by the electronic tabulating equipment, a true duplicate copy shall be made.” However, the lawsuit states that in some cases, the “City of Detroit AVCB illegally used the duplication process without legal authority for the improper purpose of copying some votes for contests on a ballot that was the improper form which had been sent to the absent voter.” The city also created a method of converting Absent Uniformed Voters or Overseas Voters electronic ballots to a ballot for tabulating through a process called duplication, a process that is not authorized by law.

High-Speed Scanners Used

The AVCB is required to process ballots and returns “in as nearly the same manner as the ballots processed at the precincts.” According to the lawsuit, scanning the ballots eliminates a key process from the “purview of the poll challenger.” The law states that “tabulators must be programmed to reject certain ballots that are marked contrary to the instructions.” Scanners do not reject the ballots and are therefore not “certified as required by the Help America Vote Act in 52 USC 20901 et seq OR by the board of state canvassers as required by MCL 168.795a.” Notably, the lawsuit also mentions “on information and belief” that “the software that is used to convert a ballot image to the dominion software as of 2018 was created by either Konnech, Inc or Votem (who purchased certain assets from Konnech, Inc.” Konnech, Inc. and its founder, Eugene Yu are currently under criminal investigation “related to election security breaches to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). There is also evidence to indicate that Konnech “has been integrally part of the Detroit Absentee Counting Board.”

Karamo October 31 Press Conference

During her October 31 press conference, Karamo sarcastically introduced herself as “the modern-day face of racism according to the City of Detroit” for daring to challenge the security of elections. She explained she is tired of seeing the people of Detroit being disenfranchised because of corruption in elections. Karamo was a poll challenger in the November 3, 2020, election. Referring to the Black community, she added:

“We have been expected to tolerate corruption and their election system, and that is not representation. Having representation is not having someone on TV who looks like you or someone in the office who looks like you. Representation ensures your voting rights are protected and that you are selecting who is empowered in your community.

I have been called a national security threat for simply wanting to protect voting rights in Detroit. It’s interesting how people throw out the term racism so much that we’re supposed to tolerate corruption—that [continues to allow] corruption from the people who look like me. If the partner who is corrupt looks like me, I’m supposed to tolerate it, and the citizens of Detroit are consistently being disenfranchised.”

The lawsuit has caused headaches for Secretary of State Benson and in the courts, as evidenced by the contention witnessed in the November 3 hearing with Judge Timothy Kenny. Benson continues to “ignore election law” in the state, according to Karamo. According to reporting by The New American, “4th District Judge Brock Swartzle ordered Benson and Director of Elections Jonathan Brater to revise or rescind a manual they published in May that contains guidelines for poll watchers and challengers. Swartzle detailed five directions in the manual that clearly violate state election law.”