FOIA ONSLAUGHT FAILS


Lisa Brown

National effort by 2020 election deniers to try to disrupt the 2022 primary and general election by swamping election officials around the country with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests have landed in Oakland County – largely to no avail, noted Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown. Brown confirmed that Oakland County and many local clerks have received numerous public records requests, “but some of it is for information we do not have, such as for information on Dominion voting machines – well, Oakland County does not have Dominion voting machines,” she noted, clerks having chosen Hart voting equipment for all of Oakland County several years ago. “They also want information that is held by local clerks, like images of ballots.” Brown explained that Michigan is different than 46 other states in that we have a decentralized election system, run by local municipalities. “Hypothetically, let’s say it’s coming from a national group that’s instructing individuals on how to send FOIAs. Clearly, some of them were just copy and paste. It wasn’t an individual asking for specific information, especially since they didn’t know we didn’t use Dominion.” Brown said the deluge of FOIAs came before the August primary, “when we were all getting ready for the primary. Some people (other clerks) thought perhaps it was to disrupt the primary. My take was that the federal retention period from the 2020 election (which is 22 months from certification) was coming to a close and they wanted to get information before it was destroyed.” She offered that a year ago, her office had zero FOIA requests like the ones they are receiving looking for this information. “They’re all identical.” According to the Michigan Advance, there has been a national coordinated effort to target election officials, with Michigan top of the list. “We see the same people pop up again and again and again and some of the same groups,” said Rebecca Parks, research director, Defend Democracy Project, who said they are seeing the same effort as Brown noted all across the country.

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