East Lansing Info kicks election denier off board

'It strains the board's trust with the community'


FRIDAY, July22 — The board of East Lansing Info has booted Anne Hill from membership and as interim executive director of the nonprofit news organization because of her involvement with groups trying to undermine the American democratic process.

In a statement published online yesterday, the board cited Hill’s research on elections and said: “We acknowledge that Hill has a constitutional right as a citizen to use the channels open to all to better understand and question the state of the voter file in East Lansing and beyond. However, tacitly allowing use of that research by groups that engage in continued attempts to subvert an election process already well established by so many courts and researchers to be legitimate necessarily strains the trust of those who seek a common commitment on the board and in the organization to establish the truth. Additionally, it strains the board’s trust with the community, and that is something that we cannot in good faith do when so many rely on all levels of ELi to represent the truth.”

Hill, president of the Hawk Nest Neighborhood group in northern East Lansing, was appointed as interim executive director of EastLansingInfo.news June 29 on a volunteer basis. Hill ran unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate to the Clinton County Board of Commissioners in the 2018 primary and served as a Republican precinct delegate in 2014.  

The outcry on social media and a complaint sent to ELi’s contact portal raised concerns about Hill’s work to discredit East Lansing’s 2020 election through work with Pure Integrity for Michigan Elections, an organization with ties to Trump-endorsed candidates that claims to be working for more secure elections in the state. Her work with the group included authoring a May 14, 2022, report accusing East Lansing election officials of counting nearly 2,000 improper or illegal ballots in the 2020 presidential election. 

A notice published on ELi, and reiterated in yesterday’s statement, noted the board was unaware of Hill’s election activism until it was brought to its attention through the contact-us portal on its website.

However, a claim by Hill that a deceased poet had voted in the 2020 election was debunked in a report on EastLansingInfo.news on Feb. 21, 2021, more than a year before she was appointed. That report also included information about Hill’s examination of the Qualified Voter File that was the basis for her May 2022 report. Hill is identified in the news report as a member of the website’s community advisory board. 

The statement said a team of board members headed by East Lansing teacher Cody Harrell met with Hill on Monday to discuss her collaboration with Pure Integrity for Michigan Elections, which the statement called a “group that has used Hill’s research into East Lansing elections to throw doubt on the legitimacy of here and statewide.” The board action occurred the next day.

The statement said the board’s concern was “not Hill’s conservatism. It is the use of her work, with her ongoing tacit permission, by organizations that engage in disinformation about elections. Whether this were being done by an organization on the left or the right, we would find it deeply troubling.”

The statement referred to a May 14, 2022, report by Hill and used by PIME accusing East Lansing election officials of counting nearly 2,000 improper or illegal ballots in the 2020 presidential election. 

The May report included allegations of dead voters casting ballots, people voting from nonexistent addresses and students voting from an address of a closed dorm. Hill calls these votes “anomalies,” “unverified,” “erroneous,” “ineligible,” and among other words. 

Read Hill’s report here.

Former East  Lansing Clerk Marie Wicks provided City Pulse with an exclusive written analysis of Hill's report. The analysis included election law as well as election administration procedures and policies for the state of Michigan. Wicks left East Lansing to train clerks and others on running elections for the Secretary of State's Office. 

“Thanks,” wrote Wicks in a 16-page refutation of Hill’s May report, “for giving me the opportunity to refute Anne Hill’s BS claims and to basically take out my rage over election misinformation and deniers.” 

Dreger, in an April 4 post on the website, announced the news organization would take a pause in reporting while the board reviewed the future and direction of the organization. This came after the interim executive director Emily Joan Elliott announced she was leaving to start a new job on May 6.

The initial two-week pause in publishing  has since stretched out as the board does a more formal strategic planning process with input from readers, the community and more. 

Since the end of April, the website has only posted updates from the board of directors and no news.

The board has appointed a task force to evaluate the next moves for the website. 

The group posted a managing editor position on July 15. The position will be part time, with a focus on coordinating editorial content and publishing it to the website. Previous responsibilities assigned to the managing editor such as finding reporters, operating social media and responding to portal inquiries will be spread among additional staff. The additional team has not been announced.

Hiring a managing editor with more focused job responsibilities was a recommendation of the organization’s task force, said the post by Nathan Andrus, chief data reporter for the website. A final report from the task force is expected in August.

“The Eli team is working on attempting to restart local reporting soon” and that “we are excited by the interest already expressed by some in this position,” the statement said.


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