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Appeals court throws out DePerno lawsuit failing to prove 2020 election fraud

By: - April 21, 2022 2:37 pm

Trump-backed Kalamazoo attorney Matthew DePerno speaks at a right-wing rally calling for a so-called “audit” of the 2020 election at the Michigan Capitol, Oct. 12, 2021 | Laina G. Stebbins

Updated, 5:09 p,m. 4/21/22 with comments from Benson

A Michigan Court of Appeals rejected Thursday a lawsuit from Republican attorney general candidate Matt DePerno over disproven conspiracies of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election in Antrim County.

DePerno, who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump, has built his campaign on pushing election conspiracies and claiming that Trump won, even though President Joe Biden beat Trump in Michigan by more than 154,000 votes.

DePerno said in his latest attempt to delegitimize the election that it is an “individual right” of Michigan voters to obtain an audit of election results and that voting machines in Antrim County were tampered with. 

The three-judge panel unanimously ruled that DePerno’s suit did not support allegations that irregularities in election results in Antrim County affected the results of the election. 

Election results in Antrim County, a GOP stronghold in northern Michigan, briefly showed Biden defeating Trump in unofficial election returns. The issue was caused by a human error and quickly corrected.

DePerno filed a lawsuit regarding the Antrim County results already and called for a so-called “forensic audit,” but the suit was dismissed by a 13th Circuit Court judge in May 2021. 

The Court of Appeals judges also denied DePerno’s argument that state law allows individuals to audit election results. 

“The statutory language does not allow private citizens to conduct independent audits, and we are not permitted to read words into the plain language of a statute,” the judges wrote in their decision.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said the dismissal “once again affirms not only the integrity and accuracy of the 2020 election results, but that those claiming otherwise will not be able to use our legal system as a vehicle for furthering their misinformation and conspiracy theories. The court’s ruling is a heartening reminder that despite ongoing efforts to dismantle our democracy and make it easier to overturn future elections, the data, the facts, and the truth are on our side.”

DePerno is one of three Republicans vying to win GOP delegates’ nomination for attorney general. Former House Speaker Tom Leonard and state Rep. Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Twp.) also are running.

The Michigan GOP convention is this weekend in Grand Rapids and the nominees will face off against Attorney General Dana Nessel during the general election in November. 


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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8.