Michigan’s Republican nominee for secretary of state has filed a lawsuit that targets voters in what is widely regarded as the Blackest city in America during an election year in which Black voters could make all the difference.
That’s not a coincidence, the local NAACP chapter says. It claims the lawsuit is tantamount to “dirty tricks” that are designed to “disenfranchise Black voters.”
Kristina Karamo, a Black woman who is seeking election next Tuesday, sued over questions she has about the absentee ballot process in Detroit, and only Detroit, according to a report from Bridge Michigan, the state’s largest nonprofit news service. If successful, Karamo’s lawsuit will prevent Detroit voters from using drop boxes and force them to cast ballots in person.
The last-minute lawsuit could upend preexisting plans voters made that did not include physically going to polling places since the state constitution allows for absentee ballots to be mailed. Possible consequences include not participating in the election, a prospect that would likely hurt Democratic candidates who are disproportionately supported by Black voters.
Karamo’s lawsuit is simply another Republican attempt at suppressing the votes of Black people, the leader of Detroit’s NAACP chapter said on Tuesday, the Detroit News reported.
“Halloween is over, but Kristina Karamo is still playing dirty tricks,” the Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit Branch of the NAACP, told reporters. “This lawsuit is geared only towards the city of Detroit, a majority African American city. It is designed to stop the effort to mobilize and drive voter participation. It is targeted in its content and racist by its intent. It is intended to disenfranchise Black voters.”
Census data shows that more than 77% of the city’s residents identify as Black.
Karamo’s lawsuit is based at least partially on former President Donald Trump’s debunked claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election — “the big lie” — that he claimed prevented him from winning.
It is in that context the Daily Beast reported that Karamo has embraced the wildest QAnon conspiracy theories including one claiming “so much evidence” that liberal elitists are “involved in freshly harvested organs.” There are also court documents that detail how Karamo threatened to kill herself and her two daughters in response to her husband filing for divorce.
But aside from those worrisome facts, Karamo’s lawsuit also follows in the footsteps of alleged vote-suppressing Republican secretaries of state, whose jobs afford them the privilege of overseeing all state elections, including their own.
Four years ago, just days before the 2018 midterm elections, then-Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp attempted to throw out absentee ballots over allegations of mismatched signatures. Sound familiar?
However, in an indication of what may result in Michigan with Karamo’s similar lawsuit, two federal judges rejected Kemp’s 2018 lawsuit in separate rulings that instructed all local election officials to stop rejecting absentee ballots over the signatures.
In the end, critics have suggested that Kemp emerged victorious over Abrams because of such voter suppression efforts that included purging voter rolls in addition to reported faulty voting machines and long lines in Black and brown communities and polling places.
Considering the timing and the similarities with Kemp four years ago, Karamo’s lawsuit seemingly comes from a place of desperation. The latest polling indicated she was trailing by double-digits to her Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Reducing the number of Black voters who likely will not support Republicans would bode well in her favor.
Other dog whistling tactics shown by Republican candidates during this election cycle include a united effort at fearmongering on crime in cities, which critics say is code for Black and brown folks.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.