BELLAIRE — The State of Michigan made good on a warning it might try to intervene in a court case that levies claims of voter fraud in Antrim County.
A hearing is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Thursday in front of Chief Judge Kevin A. Elsenheimer — who earlier issued an order granting a local man permission for a forensic examination of the county’s voting machines.
The motion, filed Wednesday and signed by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, asks the court to allow Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to intervene as defendant in the case.
Antrim County, on its own, cannot adequately defend against statutes administered by the Secretary of State, Nessell argues.
And Benson has “serious concerns” regarding Elsenheimer’s order, including that it violated the county’s license agreement with Dominion Voting Systems (the voting machine’s software manufacturer which licenses its product for county use); was overly broad; and may have compromised the very election security the plaintiff said he was trying to secure.
“At this time, it is completely unclear to the Secretary what information Plaintiff and his agents were granted access to and permitted to image,” the motion states. “It is certainly possible that Plaintiff and his agents obtained information, the release of which could present election security concerns to the State of Michigan.”
On Sunday Bill Bailey of Central Lake Township, along with a team of seven security consultants — some of whom had flown to Antrim County from Washington, D.C. — spent more than six hours inside the county building taking photographs and filming voting machines.
Bailey sued Nov. 23, accusing Antrim County of election fraud following previously reported errors in how votes were assigned to presidential candidates, as well as violating his constitutional rights following passage of a marijuana proposal by a single vote.
Bailey said his vote on the proposal was “diluted” by voter fraud; the Record-Eagle learned, however, that only Central Lake Village voters cast ballots on the proposal and Bailey lives in Central Lake Township.
Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy, who said she has been in communication with the state’s Bureau of Elections staff since the lawsuit was filed, expressed relief state entered the fray.
“I only wish it would have been sooner,” she said. “I’ve felt a little bit like I’ve been on my own out here.”
In his Dec. 4 court order allowing the forensic examination, Elsenheimer included a restriction on the “use, distribution or manipulation of the forensic images and/or other information gleaned from the forensic investigation” without court permission.
Nessell said Elsenheimer’s order did not go far enough.
The forensic review and investigation should have been conducted onsite only, the motion states, there should have been a time limit on how long the images could be retained by Bailey’s team and their credentials should have been subject to some sort of court approval.
Neither Bailey or his attorney responded to calls for comment.
In a related development, Benson announced Wednesday the Bureau of Elections will conduct a statewide “risk limiting” audit of the state’s presidential election, procedural audits in more than 200 jurisdictions and a “zero-margin risk limiting” audit in Antrim County.
A risk limiting audit entails hand-counting of randomly selected ballots; a zero risk limiting audit is a hand-count of every ballot which is then compared to machine-tabulated results.
The Antrim County audit likely will be Wednesday and Thursday, she said.