An unlikely star has emerged from the Trump campaign’s shambolic efforts to uncover election fraud, after her startling testimony at a hearing in Michigan caught the eye of observers.
Melissa Carone, a contract worker for Dominion Voting Systems, appeared before a house panel on Wednesday (local time) and insisted, without providing evidence, that tens of thousands of votes had been counted twice.
Ms Carone was one of several people who claimed to have witnessed misconduct on election night, but it was her contribution that lingered longest in the memory.
Repeatedly interrupting and talking over a Michigan representative who was attempting to determine the veracity of her allegations of voter fraud, Ms Carone intimated polls had been tampered and ballots recounted.
It was all done with a high level of confidence but lacking in any actual evidence.
At one point Republican Michigan state representative Steve Johnson – responding to Ms Carone’s assertions that she saw ballot workers count a batch of 30,000 votes multiple times – observed “we’re not seeing the poll book off by 30,000 votes.”
Ms Carone didn’t let that knock her off the scent. Here is what followed, one of many striking exchanges:
Ms Carone: “What’d you guys do, take it and do something crazy to it?”
Mr Johnson: “I’m just saying, the numbers are not off by 30,000 votes, so-”
Ms Carone: “I know what I saw.”
Ms Johnson: “Are you saying they’re filling in-”
Ms Carone: “I know what I saw, and I signed something saying that, if I’m wrong, I can go to prison. Did you?”
Ms Carone had earlier claimed “that poll book is off by over 100,000 [votes],”.
Her allegations were even a bit much for Rudy Giuliani, who could be heard shushing Ms Carone as she spoke over Mr Johnson.
Mr Giuliani, who has gushed forth with a number of outlandish election conspiracy theories in recent weeks, grimaced at points as Ms Carone held court.
Twitter users likened her manner to a Saturday Night Live character.
It’s not the first time Ms Carone’s claims have been deployed by the Trump campaign, despite their veracity being called into question.
On November 13, a Wayne county judge had decided that her claims “simply are not credible”.
But that did not stop Trump’s team from bringing her to the hearing, where Ms Carone made unsubstantiated claims about “thousands” of votes cast.
Mr Carone’s observations have sprung forth from discrepancies in Detroit’s poll book, in which the number of voters recorded as having cast ballots did not match up with the number of ballots actually counted.
This is not an unusual phenomenon. It has happened repeatedly in previous elections, including Mr Trump’s surprise victory in 2016.
Ordinarily, the discrepancy is usually just a handful of votes. It can be caused by human error, faulty equipment, or someone signing in to vote and then leaving before casting their ballot.
“It’s wildly off, and dead people voted, and illegals voted.”
Ms Carone claimed on Wednesday night she “had to get rid of social media” following her public appearances.
That statement also seems to be false, given a Facebook account in her name still exists on the site and features an image of her with Mr Giuliani at the hearings.