A Michigan county clerk has hired as an election worker a woman who has ties to the extremist Proud Boys group and who urged rioters at the Capitol on January 6 to “storm the gates,” according to multiple outlets, as allies of former President Donald Trump attempt to recruit 2020 election deniers to serve as poll workers and challengers ahead of the midterm elections.
The new poll recruiter is Genevieve Peters, who has shared social media posts of herself accompanied by members of the Proud Boys and who livestreamed a “Stop the Steal” rally outside of Democratic Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s home, Politico first reported on Wednesday.
Peters was hired as a “talent development specialist,” by Anthony Forlini, the clerk for Macomb County, a swing region and the third biggest county in Michigan.
Peters—who in one video appears to encourage January 6 rioters to breach the Capitol and who has also been shown in social media posts with Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, according to Bloomberg—is helping with poll worker training procedures as she has a “background in teaching and training,” Forlini told Politico.
Forlini said someone else interviewed Peters to help recruit poll workers in the midst of a shortage before the November elections.
The clerk said he knew about Peters’ involvement in the January 6 rallies, but that what she did in her “personal life” happened before she joined the clerk’s office, adding that her views on election fraud had not “been apparent in anything we’ve done.”
Forlini’s office did not respond to requests for comment from Forbes.
“The truth was we let our voices be heard that we’re not taking this fraudulent election and we are not going to stand down. This is not over. This is only the beginning,” Peters said in a video first reported on by Politico.
Not even Forlini would confirm to Politico that Michigan’s election had been “fairly determined statewide,” the outlet reported. “It’s not up to me to believe or not to believe,” he said.
Several Trump allies have pushed for Republican election deniers to serve as poll workers to help guard against election fraud. In June, Politico reported that Republican Party operatives were constructing a plan to recruit and train poll workers to challenge voters in Democratic-majority districts and link them up with Republican party attorneys. One GOP activist, Matthew Seifried, the Republican National Committee’s election integrity director for the state of Michigan, pledged to have “an army” of workers at the midterm elections, claiming the GOP would also have “more lawyers than we’ve ever recruited, because let’s be honest, that’s where it’s going to be fought, right?” according to Politico. Trump made use of dozens of GOP poll challengers’ false claims of election fraud in his lawsuits attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
Election officials and poll workers are preparing for a potentially turbulent day at the polls in November as groups across the country that have spread false claims of voter fraud try to recruit poll watchers and challengers. Over the past year, some election officials across the country have noted a spike in aggressive actions from poll watchers, who have at times taken photos of sensitive voting equipment or attempted to intimidate voters at the polls. The tensions emerged during the 2020 presidential election, when Trump ramped up calls for people to “go into the polls and watch very carefully” as he warned of widespread voter fraud, though experts have noted such fraud is extremely rare. In Michigan, for instance, chaos ensued when a flood of poll challengers attempted to observe the count of absentee ballots in the 2020 presidential election in the Democratic-majority city of Detroit, leading police to block people from entering.