LANSING — A 54-page report authored by a University of Michigan computer science professor who analyzed Antrim County’s 2020 election results, found initial mistakes were the result of human error and that certified results of the presidential contest were accurate.
J. Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science and engineering who conducted the analysis as part of an ongoing lawsuit, found no evidence of a security breach or deliberate action, but said Michigan needs to exert greater oversight of local election administration.
Halderman was hired by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel, to perform a forensic examination of the county’s handling of the 2020 election, his report states.
“The incident in Antrim County arose due to the county’s mishandling of last minute ballot design changes, a circumstance that is unlikely to have occurred widely in Michigan during the 2020 election,” Halderman states in his report released Friday.
Layers of protection that were supposed to ensure accuracy broke down after mistakes were made by county and township staff, Halderman said, which ranged from procedural missteps in processing ballots to mistakes in operating election technology.
Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy, who could not be reached for comment, previously said her office did not properly update election software.
A Central Lake Township man, Bill Bailey, is suing Antrim County, accusing the county of violating his constitutional rights and suggesting in court filings the Dominion Voting Systems equipment used by the county was fraudulent or tampered with, court filings show.
A Dominion spokesperson declined comment on the report, though Halderman said he found no evidence of fraud or that the machines were tampered with, and that final poll tapes were accurate in all races in all precincts with the possible exception of an ordinance to allow a single marijuana retailer in the Village of Central Lake.
Matthew DePerno, a Portage-based attorney representing Bailey in the lawsuit, did not respond to a request for comment on Halderman’s findings or about recent court filings.
Halderman also addressed issues raised in a report by Dallas-based Allied Security Operations Group, which sent a team to Antrim County on behalf of Bailey and DePerno who’d petitioned a judge for a court order granting permission to conduct the exam.
Halderman said the ASOG report contained an “extraordinary number of false, inaccurate, or unsubstantiated statements and conclusions” the most serious of which he refuted.
The initial result of the vote on the marijuana ordinance was a tie; a Nov. 6 retabulation had the ordinance passing by one vote, though Halderman questioned in his report whether three votes were properly scanned, citing a separate human error which he said could impact the result.
“These failings suggest a need for greater oversight of county and local election administration in Michigan,” he said. “I also recommend several changes to election technology, training, and procedures in order to better guard against similar problems in future elections,” Halderman said.
Court filings show Bailey cites passage of the ordinance in his lawsuit against the county, though records show Bailey, lives in Central Lake Township — not the Village of Central Lake — and has been registered to vote there since March of 2014.
Only village residents received a ballot that included the ordinance, Guy previously said.
Village of Central Lake Clerk Andrew Smith did not return a call seeking comment, though he previously confirmed Bailey was given the proper ballot when he showed up in person to vote Nov. 3.
Central Lake Village straddles the north end of Intermediate Lake in the western portion of Antrim County. Central Lake Township occupies 31.3 square miles surrounding the village.
Residents of the village and the township vote at a shared governmental center building and it is not unusual for township voters and village voters to receive different ballots reflecting issues directly related to their residency, Guy said.
The next court action in the lawsuit is a motion hearing, scheduled April 12 at 10:30 a.m. in 13th Circuit Court in front of Judge Kevin Elsenheimer.
DePerno has this month served the clerks in Barry, Charlevoix, Grand Traverse, Kent, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, seeking extensive election data, court records show.
The subpoena served on Charlevoix County Clerk Julia Drost, for example, states Bailey seeks all election tapes, paper ballots, system logs, canvasser paperwork and other data for his “expert witnesses” to conduct a “forensic review.”
Drost said she’d referred the issue to civil counsel, as did Grand Traverse County Clerk Bonnie Scheele.
Grand Traverse County Deputy Civil Counsel Kit Tholen called the request “overbroad,” said Bailey lacked standing to file it and that the information sought was, “not ripe, let alone relevant.”
Tholen’s motion in response requests the court award the county costs and attorney fees incurred in responding to the subpoena.
Attorneys representing several of the other counties have already filed motions to quash, or cancel, the subpoenas.