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Michigan sheriff who suggested Whitmer kidnapping could be 'citizen's arrest' files election lawsuit

A Michigan sheriff who defended the militia group that allegedly plotted to kidnap Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerThe Hill's Morning Report - President Biden, Vice President Harris begin work today Michigan GOP pushes to replace member who voted to certify election results Is the spread of misinformation MLK's dream? MORE (D) filed a federal lawsuit on Sunday alleging voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf alleges in the complaint that "multifaceted schemes and artifices ... resulted in the unlawful counting, or manufacturing, of hundreds of thousands of illegal, ineligible, duplicate or purely fictitious ballots in the state of Michigan."

The lawsuit, obtained by the Detroit Free Press, reportedly does not provide evidence to the claims.

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It seeks to block directions outlined in a memo from Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) to local clerks instructing them to delete electronic poll book software and associated files from the Nov. 3 vote "unless a petition for recount has been filed and the recount has not been completed, a post-election audit is planned but has not yet been completed, or the deletion of the data has been stayed by an order of the court or the Secretary of State."

Records obtained by the outlet show the instructions are in line with standard post-election procedures that both Republican and Democratic secretaries of state have set out before. 

Jake Rollow, a spokesman for Benson, told the newspaper that the post-election memo is meant to remind clerks to remove voters’ personal information from their machines to protect sensitive information. 

"This is a critical data security measure. Importantly, poll book records are not lost in this process because prior to deleting any files, all data in the e-pollbooks are printed and hard copies are retained,” Rollow said last week.

The new lawsuit from Leaf states "immediate intervention in the form of injunctive relief is necessary to prevent the loss of election data and evidence needed to determine voter intent, any systematic fraud, and any criminal activity and/or civil liability."

Craig Mauger, a reporter with Detroit News, noted on Twitter that much of the suit focuses on conspiracy theories about writing instruments that have already been debunked for weeks by experts across the country and Benson's office.

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Seven other plaintiffs, who allegedly brought their concerns about the election to Leaf’s department, are named in the suit.

The lawsuit names Benson, Whitmer and the Michigan Board of State Canvassers as defendants.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) dismissed the suit on Twitter, writing: The only thing missing from this post-election circus was a lawsuit from Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf against @GovWhitmer and @JocelynBenson.”

“Until now, of course. Because 2020 is still happening,” she quipped.

Leaf faced calls to resign in October after he defended the militia group that allegedly plotted to kidnap Whitmer and after it was revealed he shared a stage with one of the plotters at a past event.

The sheriff initially downplayed the plot, which was thwarted by the FBI, by suggesting that “perhaps they were just trying to arrest the governor and not kidnap her."

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The lawsuit was also filed one day after dozens of people gathered outside of Benson’s home, protesting Michigan’s certification of the election that gave the state’s electoral votes to President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBudowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit DC might win US House vote if it tries Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman inks deal with IMG Models MORE.

The protesters echoed President TrumpDonald TrumpSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses Nurse to be tapped by Biden as acting surgeon general: report Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency MORE's baseless claims that vast electoral fraud had occurred in the 2020 presidential election.

On Monday, a federal judge rejected Michigan Republicans’ efforts to have the election results decertified. 

The complaint alleged widespread malfeasance from elections officials and voting fraud and asked the court to order the governor to "transmit certified election results that state that President Donald Trump is the winner of the election."