Fake Electoral Certificates Obtained by American Oversight Draw Renewed Scrutiny

On Tuesday night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow devoted much of the first half of her show to discussing forged electoral certificates obtained by American Oversight. The phony documents were submitted to Congress by Republicans in five states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin — seeking to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory in those states by casting the state’s electoral votes for Donald Trump instead.

Biden won those states and their electors, but none of the fake certificates contained any indication that they listed illegitimate slates of electors. In addition, they all contained similar language and formatting, as did alternate slates prepared by allies in Pennsylvania and New Mexico in the event of a Trump victory. 

“This would … appear to be some kind of coordinated effort,” Maddow said. “Or at least, someone gave Republicans in all these states the same template for creating these false records. … That doesn’t happen by accident. Who organized this?”

The forged certificates were referenced in a memo prepared by Trump-allied lawyer John Eastman outlining a six-step scheme in which former Vice President Mike Pence would throw out the valid electors from the “7 states [that] have transmitted dual slates of electors.”

They were also referenced in the draft letter prepared by former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark in December 2020 that would have instructed Georgia state officials to investigate “various irregularities” in the election. Trump had plotted to oust acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and replace him with Clark, who was willing to bolster Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and help him use the Justice Department to overturn his election loss.

These forged documents are a critical piece of the coordinated, multi-state effort to cast doubt on the 2020 election and subvert the will of American voters. 

American Oversight published the records, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request to the National Archives and Records Administration, in March 2021. Through public records requests, we are actively investigating the attempts by Trump and his supporters to reverse the 2020 election results, as well ongoing attacks on our democracy, including partisan election investigations.