Grand Rapids area election worker charged with 2 felonies for misconduct at August primary

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — A primary election worker in a Grand Rapids area township is facing two felonies for what Kent County leaders say involved illegally accessing a machine with a thumb drive.

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker announced the charges Wednesday, Sept. 28 against the man, who worked the Aug. 2 primary in Gaines Township’s Precinct 8.

MLive is not naming the man pending arrangement.

The charges are election law– falsifying returns/records and using a computer to commit a crime.

Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons, in a statement issued Wednesday, said the man’s actions did not affect the election or allow any access to voting machines or ballots.

She said another person observed the man putting a personal thumb drive into an electronic poll book computer. The alleged incident happened after the polls closed.

The poll book contains voter registration data, including confidential, personal identifying information about precinct voters. But it is not connected to any tabulation equipment or the Internet, Posthumus Lyons said.

The accused man is not an employee of Kent County or Gaines Township, but was a resident trained and certified by clerks to work at precincts during elections as well as at absentee ballot counting boards.

Posthumus Lyons described the incident as “extremely egregious and incredibly alarming. Not only is it a violation of Michigan law, but it is a violation of public trust and of the oath all election workers are required to take,” she said in the statement.

Still, she said no election results were accessed.

In an effort to reassure voters, Posthumus Lyons said she intends to conduct an audit of the precinct’s Aug. 2 election and count the paper ballots. The breached electronic poll book also will be replaced and not used in the November election.

“Let me be very clear: voter fraud and illegal election activity in Kent County will not be tolerated. Our citizens deserve to have faith in their elections and in those who work them,” she wrote.

“I will do everything possible to keep Kent County’s elections secure, transparent, fair, and accurate. If someone or something threatens that, we will take aggressive action to protect our elections and hold those responsible accountable,” she said.

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