Michigan clerks who gave away tabulators risk ability to run elections, letters show

Craig Mauger, The Detroit News on

Published in Political News

The five tabulators, including one from Irving Township in Barry County, were taken to rental properties in Oakland County, where a group of self-described cybersecurity experts broke into them and performed tests on them, an Aug. 5 petition by the Attorney General's office for a special prosecutor said.

The petition named Leaf along with Republican attorney general candidate Matt DePerno and state Rep. Daire Rendon, R-Lake City.

Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson, who was named the special prosecutor on Sept. 8, continues to review the case.

Olson, the clerk in a township with fewer than 3,500 people, provided a tabulator to an individual on March 9, 2021, after allegedly being asked to cooperate with an election fraud investigation, according to the Attorney General's office. Three months later, the person returned the tabulator to the township.

Clerks should never allow access to election equipment to entities other than election officials, staff, licensed vendors and accredited voting system test laboratories, Brater wrote in his Aug. 26 letter to Olson.

"Granting access to election equipment to unauthorized personnel may result in the decertification of election equipment or require additional procedures be followed prior to the use of such equipment," Brater added.

The "mere claim that access is being sought" for a sheriff's department investigation should not have been enough to provide access to a tabulator, Brater wrote.


"Access of this nature would require, at minimum, a subpoena, warrant signed by a judge or court order," he wrote.

State law requires local clerks to comply with instructions given by the secretary of state, who has supervisory control under the state's election policies, Brater wrote.

Olson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

In the Monday court filing, Leaf's attorney, Stefanie Lambert, argued the letter amounted to threatening to remove Olson from her constitutional duties. Lambert was also one of the nine individuals named in the petition for a special prosecutor by the Attorney General's office.

DePerno, Lambert and Rendon "orchestrated a coordinated plan to gain access to voting tabulators," the Aug. 5 petition said. DePerno has denied wrongdoing and described the allegations as "total garbage."

In 2021, the Michigan Bureau of Elections prohibited a local clerk in Hillsdale County from administering an election after the bureau said the clerk failed to comply with state requirements regarding voting equipment in Adams Township.

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