Michigan County Votes to Hand-Count Ballots in Upcoming Primary, Eschewing Machines

Michigan County Votes to Hand-Count Ballots in Upcoming Primary, Eschewing Machines
Election workers check the tapes from the voting machines to verify they contain the correct signatures from polling stations after polls closed in the general election at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich., on Nov. 3, 2020. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

Commissioners in a Michigan county late last week voted unanimously to hand-count every ballot cast in an upcoming primary, avoiding the use of Dominion Voting Systems machines.

Antrim County commissioners voted against a proposal from county clerk Sheryl Guy to apportion $5,080 to reinstall election management system software on a computer and tabulators for the county, which would enable use of the Dominion machines in the May 4 primary.

Guy wanted to pay Pro V&V, a testing and verification firm, to update the management system. She said officials can’t use the equipment because of a forensic audit done as part of a court case that was brought against the county, alleging fraud in the 2020 election. The plaintiff pointed to how the county initially reported a victory for candidate Joe Biden before flipping the results in President Donald Trump’s favor by thousands of votes, citing a human error.

Commissioners expressed concern that reprogramming the machines and then using them would violate a judge’s order in the case, Bailey v. Antrim County.

“If we use them, we have to delete them, which is contradictory to a court order,” Commissioner Terry VanAlstine said before the vote. “We can’t delete the data that’s on the machines. If you use the current machines, they need to be swiped, they need to be cleared. And we can’t do that.”

That left commissioners with several options: approving the purchase of new machines, estimated to cost around $150,000; asking the court to allow the use of the machines in the upcoming primary; or resorting to hand counting the ballots.

“We need to buy these new machines and stop playing games,” Commissioner Christian Marcus said at one point.

Hand-counting, which was eventually agreed upon, appears to put the county in violation of state rules, but there was hope that state officials would understand the unique issues the county is dealing with.

“The state says we can’t. But let them come and tell us that we can’t, given our circumstance,” Ed Boettcher told colleagues. “We’re going to say we’re going to hand-count them and let the state tell us we can’t.”

There was also discussion about borrowing tabulators from the state or renting some from ElectionSource, a Grand Rapids-based election equipment and service provider.

“But I don’t want to do that unless I’m forced to,” Guy said.

The motion included directing the county lawyer to draft a letter to the state alerting it to the decision.

“The ballots will be exactly as they are now. We’re just going to count them manually instead of with the machine. But we want to make sure they’re going to certify it,” Boettcher said.

Aneta Kiersnowski, press secretary for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, told The Epoch Times via email: “The hand tally of all ballots cast for president in Antrim County confirmed the vote tabulation machines there were extremely accurate. And the recent completion of hundreds of additional audits across the state affirmed what we knew in November: that Michigan had a safe, secure and accurate election and the results—including those tabulated by Dominion machines across the state—reflect the will of the voters.”

Dominion declined to comment.

Pro V&V didn’t return an inquiry.