Kent Co. prosecutor charges election worker after alleged illegal activity

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Posted at 5:02 PM, Sep 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-29 11:22:37-04

GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker filed charges against an election worker Wednesday, stemming from alleged illegal activity during the 2022 Primary Election.

The prosecutor’s office says James Holkeboer faces felony charges for election law-falsifying returns/records and using a computer to commit a crime.

Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons released a statement Wednesday saying that on August 18, she was made aware of suspicious activity by an election worker during the August 2022 Primary Election.

Posthumus Lyons says the incident happened at Gaines Township Precinct 8 after the polls closed.

She says someone saw the worker insert a personal USB drive into the Electronic Poll Book, which is the computer that election workers use to administer the election at their precinct.

It contains voter registration data, including confidential, personal identifying information about every voter in that precinct.

Posthumus Lyons did clarify that the Electronic Poll Book is not connected to any tabulation equipment, nor is it connected to the internet; however, the computer is still protected by various provisions of Michigan criminal and election law.

She says she contacted the Kent County Sheriff immediately to report the incident.

Posthumus Lyons also clarified that the person accused of the crimes was a township election worker, not an employee of Kent County or Gaines Township.

She goes on to say the following:

“My office intends to conduct a post-election audit of the precinct, complete with a tally of the paper ballots to reaffirm the results and reassure the voters. As an added measure, the Electronic Poll Book that was breached will no longer be used in future elections and will be replaced by a new one prior to the November election.”

“There are two things I want to emphasize:

“First, this incident is 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.

“Second, this incident had no impact on the election. The breach of the Electronic Poll Book could not- and did not- allow any access to voting machines, ballots or election results and it could not have affected the outcome of the election itself.

“The willful violation occurred after the files in the Electronic Poll Book were saved to the precinct’s authorized, encrypted system device and that system device was placed in a certified, sealed container, per standard procedure.

Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons

If convicted, Holkeboer faces up to several years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.

The Michigan Bureau of Elections released the following the statement to FOX 17 Wednesday:

"While our elections remain secure and safe, we take seriously all violations of election law and will continue to work with the relevant authorities to assure there are consequences for those who break the law. The breached equipment in this case has been decommissioned and will not be in use for the general election in November. Michigan voters can be confident that their votes will be counted accurately and securely."
Angela Benander, Michigan Department of State spokesperson

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