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Voter Deception Dressed Up for the Ball



by Elizabeth Dallam-Ayoub | October 20, 2023


On October 12, 2023, 36 Michigan legislators took voter deception--or perhaps taxpayer deception--to new heights with the introduction of House Bill 5144 to amend Michigan’s election law. 2023-HIB-5144.pdf (mi.gov)


This bill, as introduced, makes distributing “materially deceptive media” a crime. Say the words, “I am supporting a bill to make it a crime to distribute materially deceptive media,” to a constituent and chances are the constituent will gaze at the beautiful ball-ready outfit, just as the prince was so enthralled with the gowned Cinderella in her glass slippers. However, in order to make sense of this bill, one must first read what our legislators have defined as “materially deception media:”

(c) "Materially deceptive media" means any image, audio, or video that meets all of the following requirements: (i) Falsely depicts an individual engaging in speech, conduct, or appearance in which the depicted individual did not in fact engage. (ii) A reasonable viewer or listener would incorrectly believe that the depicted individual engaged in the speech, conduct, or appearance depicted. (iii) Was produced by substantially relying on technical means other than another individual's ability to physically or verbally impersonate the depicted individual.

Cinderella, the poor little girl who worked cleaning ashes, magically appeared as a princess. So too, Michigan legislators are dressing up this bill to prevent the media from harming "the reputation or electoral prospect” of a candidate in an election.


Perhaps the legislators need toreminding that the goal of any distributed material is to harm the prospects of a candidate and keep them from winning an election (i.e., “electoral prospect”).

To falsely depict an individual means what exactly? Does it mean putting a spin on another candidate’s position? If so, perhaps Elissa Slotkin and Tom Barrett, both U.S. congressional candidates for Michigan during 2022, could have been charged under this bill.


Skubick first asked the candidates which attack ads misconstrued their positions the most. Barrett cited a pro-Slotkin ad that claimed Barrett voted against an electric vehicle plant in his district, saying he didn’t disagree with providing jobs in his district, rather he disagreed with giving cash to major global corporations.


Slotkin called out Barrett for an ad that claimed she was living with another man, asking him if he was accusing her of sleeping with him. Barrett denied this claim, saying he was only supporting what was “on the record,” and called their dynamic inappropriate as Slotkin is renting the home from a constituent and lobbyist. 7th District Showdown: Slotkin and Barrett debate at WLNS studio | WLNS 6 News


Promote the Vote 2022 sponsored numerous ads to convince voters to support Proposal 2. H.B. 5144 seemingly wants to halt the Michigan evil where material disseminated for an election is intended to “change the voting behavior of electors.”


But isn't the goal of advertising to turn people toward one product or another? In 2022 numerous deceptive advertisements promoted Proposal 2. These advertisements promised voters that if they voted in favor of Proposal 2 they would never have to “choose between security and convenience,” that “voter ID” would be enshrined in the state constitution, and that “only eligible citizens” would be permitted to vote. About – Promote The Vote 2022


Since 88% of voters believed that voter identification should be required, promoters of Prop 2 deliberately misrepresented the proposal. They tricked Michiganders into voting in favor of Prop 2, which, in truth, enshrined a voter's option to provide no ID. Misleading advertising led to the changing of the state's constitution in a manner opposite of voters' wishes and with no legislature input, as is constitutionally required. But does anyone believe Promote the Vote will have to pay for its misdeeds? Or is it more likely HB 5144 will be selectively applied to silence dissent? Michigan Election Reform Amusement Park (mifairelections.org)


To quote an Oct. 18 opinion piece in the New York Post, "authoritarians in the US and around the world have cynically used claims of 'disinformation' to censor ordinary people and stifle dissent about everything from the efficacy of masks and vaccines to the war in Ukraine, the Middle East situation, and Hunter Biden’s laptop."

Perhaps the legislators who introduced 5144 want to encourage individuals to “stay the course” with the candidate they first decided to vote for. After all, the bill seemingly intends to make it unlawful for ads to change a voter’s mind. One can imagine the flocks of donors who will contribute to a candidate whose campaign does not harm the opponent’s prospects of winning an election.


Michigan Fair Elections is non-partisan and does not support any candidate. But it is fair and non-partisan for any American to point to what the media has said about former President Donald Trump and his actions on January 6, 2021. Countless news media reported that Trump directed his supporters “to march on the Capitol.” January 6 U.S. Capitol attack | Britannica


However, these were Trump's actual words:


So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I love Pennsylvania Avenue. And we’re going to the Capitol, and we’re going to try and give.


The Democrats are hopeless, they never vote for anything. Not even one vote. But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help. We’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.



Imagine how many individuals or news outlets might be subject to prosecution under Michigan’s H.B. 5144 for the words “to march on the Capitol.”


On that same date, January 6, 2017, Trump stated:


In Michigan, quickly, the secretary of state, a real great one, flooded the state with unsolicited mail-in ballot applications sent to every person on the rolls in direct violation of state law. Transcript of Trump's speech at rally before US Capitol riot | AP News

Readers will recall that FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Sept. 25, 2020, saying, “Now, we have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise.” The legacy media extrapolated from that statement to declare the election was the most secure ever. The Making of a Deplorable Election Denier Conspiracy Theorist


Did Wray or the media correct their statements less than a month later when the Michigan State Police opened an investigation into possible inter-state election fraud, stemming from GBI Strategies activities as reported in Muskegon? Chronology of the State Police Election Crimes Investigation in Muskegon Raises Unanswered Questions (mifairelections.org


Do the sponsors of H.B. 5144 believe that “fake news about election integrity” is materially deceptive material?


Representative Rachelle Smith, a member of the Elections Committee, stated to MFE, “Both 5141 and 5144 are bad, likely unconstitutional and will impermissibly chill speech.”


The 36 legislators sponsoring this bill each receive a salary of $71,685. Salaries for October 2023.pdf (mi.gov) Meanwhile, while these 36 legislators toot their own horns about being concerned about materially deceptive media in the elections, taxpayers might want to be concerned about the $2,280,660 they have paid to dress their legislators in the finery that might enthrall some. But not all.


If you are one who is not enthralled, please consider volunteering for Michigan Fair Elections to bring transparency to the entire election and voting process. Also, when you cast your vote at the next election, see Cinderella as the prince ultimately did. Translated, cast-your-vote-with-your-eyes-open.


 

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