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Election worker facing tampering charges in Michigan is GOP precinct delegate

civic center in Grand Rapids
Kent County prosecutors charged James Donald Holkeboer with two felonies for trying to tamper with the August primary election. (BD Images / Shutterstock.com)
  • A Republican election worker and GOP delegate was charged with two felonies on Wednesday 
  • The election worker tried inserting a personal USB into an electronic poll book
  • The precinct will not use the electronic poll book in the Nov. 8 election

The Kent County prosecutor has charged an alternate Michigan GOP delegate with two felonies on claims he tried tampering with the August primary.

James Donald Holkeboer, an election worker the GOP nominated as an alternate precinct delegate in April, was charged Wednesday with one count of falsifying election records and using a computer to commit a crime. The crimes are punishable by up to five years in prison.

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Robert Macomber, Kent County’s chief deputy clerk, told Bridge Michigan that Holkeboer is a Republican and the August 2022 primary was the “first election in which he served as an election inspector.”

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Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons called the incident "extremely egregious and incredibly alarming" in a Wednesday statement.

"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," Posthumus Lyons said. 

She said she was made aware that a poll worker inserted a personal USB drive into an electronic poll book after polls closed the night of the Aug. 2 primary in Gaines Township’s Precinct 8.

Poll workers use the book to administer the election, which contains "voter registration data, including confidential, personal identifying information about all voters in that precinct," Posthumus Lyons said. 

According to Posthumus Lyons, the electronic poll book was not connected to the precinct's tabulation equipment or the internet. She stated that Michigan criminal and election law provisions protect the electronic poll book. 

"Immediately upon learning of the incident, I contacted Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young, where an investigation into the matter began," Posthumus Lyons stated. 

According to Posthumus Lyons, Holkeboer was a township election worker and not an employee of Kent County or Gaines Township. 

"Election workers are everyday citizens trained and certified by clerks to work the precincts and absentee counting boards on Election Day," Posthumus Lyons stated. 

The GOP nominated Holkeboer as an alternate precinct delegate for the Third District earlier this year. In 2020, the GOP nominated him as a delegate to the convention. 

According to the Kent County Clerk's Office, Holkeboer's actions had no impact on the elections as the breach did not "allow any access to voting machines, ballots, or election results, and it could not have affected the outcome of the election itself."

Holkeboer tried tampering with the electronic poll book after its data was saved to the precinct's "authorized, encrypted system device, and that system device was placed in a certified, sealed container, per standard procedure," according to Posthumus Lyons. 

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The Kent County Clerk's Office will audit the precinct, "complete with a tally of the paper ballots to reaffirm the results and reassure the voters," Posthumus Lyons stated. 

Angela Benander, a Michigan Secretary of State spokesperson, said the electronic poll book in question has "been decommissioned and will not be used in the general election in November."

"While our elections remain secure and safe, we take all violations of election law seriously and will continue to work with the relevant authorities to assure there are consequences for those who break the law," Benander said in a statement to Bridge Michigan. 

Holkeboer faces arraignment in 63rd District Court, but prosecutors couldn’t say when.

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