Commentary

A polling place with a

Americans are used to going to the polls to have their votes counted. In a Michigan case, though, authorities allege a local official took steps to prevent that in her own reelection race. (Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock)

 By C. Douglas Golden  March 15, 2022 at 5:17am

Here’s the mainstream media take: Election fraud doesn’t exist. It’s a figment of the febrile conservative mind. It’s a chimera used to discriminate against marginalized communities/voters of color/transgender Eskimo communities/whatever. If you talk about it, you’re probably some kind of QAnon nutcase.

Oh, by the way, an elections official in a Michigan city is now charged with tampering with ballots so they couldn’t be counted in a 2020 race she narrowly won and could spend five years in prison on each of two felony charges. Nothing to see here!

The case of Kathy Funk hardly represents large-scale election fraud, but it’s illustrative of how this isn’t an imaginary phenomenon constructed by far-right fabulists. So it might not be a surprise that the charges against Funk aren’t going to get much coverage in the mainstream media.

According to a report by MLive-The Flint Journal, Funk was the township clerk in Flint Township, Michigan, running for reelection as a Democrat back in 2020, and oversaw the election as well.

Public broadcaster Michigan Radio reported that during the August primary, Funk reported a break-in at the township’s offices to police, telling them that the seal on a ballot container was broken.

But, after an investigation by the Michigan State Police, the office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel came to a different conclusion: Funk had broken the seal herself.

“The Department of Attorney General alleges Funk purposely broke a seal on a ballot container so that the votes inside, under Michigan Election Law, could not be counted in an anticipated recount,” the Michigan Department of Attorney General said in a Friday statement.

“Funk was running for re-election, and narrowly prevailed in the unofficial count.”

Funk would eventually defeat challenger Manya Triplett by a margin of 2,698 votes to 2,619.

Is voter fraud a major issue?

In the MLive.com-The Flint Journal report, Triplett said that she’d asked for a recount after she said she witnessed suspicious activity at the township’s offices in the days before and after the primary.

Triplett was told the break-in prevented any recount, given the tampering with the ballot boxes, according to the report.

Funk now faces felony charges of ballot tampering and misconduct in office, both of which carry potential five-year sentences if she’s convicted.

She pleaded not guilty at her arraignment Monday, according to MLive.

“Election officials must uphold the integrity of their positions. Those who abuse that commitment undermine the very foundation of our democracy,” Nessel said.

“Our department is committed to prosecuting election violations, regardless of the political party of the perpetrator.”

Nessel, a Democrat and a polarizing figure in her own right, almost sounds regretful about that last part. If Funk were a Republican, would her quote have started with, “Hot diggity!” and 20 hand-clap emojis?

Would the statement have alleged Funk was wearing a MAGA hat when she allegedly tampered with the ballots? Asking for a friend.

But I digress. Funk’s case may seem small stakes, given Flint Township is the neighboring, smaller cousin to the better-known city of Flint (site of a lead-contaminated water crisis that made national headlines). Democrats might be quick to dismiss it as a bad B-plot for a “Parks & Recreation” episode.

Here’s The Associated Press, for instance, making sure you get the point in the last paragraph of its report about the charges against Funk:

“An AP review of election fraud in Michigan and five other battleground states found that state officials identified a total of 56 potential instances of voter fraud in Michigan, a number  that represents less than 1% of President Joe Biden’s margin of victory in the state.”

Not that anyone had actually brought up any connection between the charges against Funk and the 2020 presidential election. The AP’s point is to report on a criminal election fraud case — and then to assure everyone there’s no such thing as voter fraud, at least not on a consequential level. Why even report on it in the first place?

And as for Funk? She’s no longer the township clerk in Flint Township, having resigned. Not over the criminal charges, though.

As the AP reported, she left to take on a new job — as the elections supervisor for Genesee County, Michigan’s fifth-most-populous county.

Totally inconsequential, folks. Nothing to see here.

C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he’s written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.

C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he’s written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).

Birthplace

Morristown, New Jersey

Education

Catholic University of America

Languages Spoken

English, Spanish

Topics of Expertise

American Politics, World Politics, Culture

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