HARRISON – Poll workers for the Nov. 2 election for the two Hayes Township precincts were taken through the process during the public election testing session held Oct. 26. The election procedures and machines were the same as used in 2020, but the massive growth of mistrust and doubt that has been created by the propagation of lies about the 2020 Presidential Election, have created difficulties for clerks across the state as they try to help voters exercise their right to be heard.
Thus, the introduction and election background information provided for the election workers began with “May we never have a year like 2020 again.” It was noted that since the 2020 election, misunderstanding and misinformation have led to mistrust, including the difference between an absent voter application and an AV ballot. Some of that confusion arose from the multiple groups sending out applications, including the Michigan Secretary of State, political interest groups, union groups and political parties.
Also adding to confusion was the fact that there are three Hayes Townships in Michigan, all of the special interest groups had the return address for the Hayes Township Clerk in Charlevoix. Clerk Deb Hoyt said that sort of problem was exacerbated by people taking to social media rather than simply contacting their local clerk for clarification.
Also provided was some data specific to Clare County’s Hayes Township: 4,031 registered voters; Permanent AV voter list up from 110 to 941; 23% of voters now vote AV; In November 2020, 409 AV ballots were sent and 274 returned.
Another obstacle has been the false statements about the Dominion voting machines, bolstered by confusion about how the machines actually work. There is even a counter-intuitive class action lawsuit seeking to disallow annual maintenance on the equipment. It was made clear that the Hayes Township tabulators are not connected to the internet.
The tabulators are tested using stacks of practice ballots, and the workers are well educated in the process of matching the voter number with the ballot number, and the importance of resetting the machine to zero prior to the start of actual voting on election day. The machines produce three paper tapes containing those figures (one for the county clerk, one for the board of canvassers, and one to stay in the book), and the machine’s figures are also saved to a computer card – all are locked in a transport bag and brought to the county clerk at the end of the election. This allows the Board of Canvassers to compare the data and count paper ballots to ensure accuracy.
The workers also were informed of the 140 legislative bills introduced since Jan. 1 of this year which pertain to elections. Some possible examples include: limiting all millage elections to a November election; possibly change the August primary to a June primary election; forcing local jurisdictions to place return postage on all AV ballot return envelopes (local expense); requiring training for election challengers; eliminating the Affidavit of not in Possession of photo ID, and requiring those without photo ID to vote by Provisional Ballot; require the Secretary of State to post on the state website those local clerks not current in their training; requiring local jurisdictions with more than one precinct to create and use AV counting boards; and requiring security features on ballots, i.e. watermark.
In referencing those 140 bills after the session, both Hoyt and treasurer Maye Tessner-Rood concurred that the bills are basically theoretical solutions looking for problems that do not exist. They also noted that they would encourage everyone who is seeking election to office or seeking to pass election legislation to work at least one election to better understand the process, the integrity of those who do this important work for their citizens, and how legislation would affect those citizens. Tessner-Rood went so far as to say that it should actually be required.
One disheartening development of recent days evidenced the fact that not all clerks conduct secure elections, refusing to follow election laws and Bureau of Election requirements. In this instance in Hillsdale County, the Michigan Bureau of Elections directed the Adams Township clerk to cease administering elections in Adams Township, including the Nov. 2 election. That clerk did not allow preventative maintenance on voting equipment, was unwilling to complete require certifications of Public accuracy Testing of voting machines which assures accuracy and transparency with public viewing; and had said she might conduct future elections without certified voting equipment selected by the county. [See adjacent statement from Tracy Wimmer regarding missing election equipment in Adams Township.]
As usual, Hayes Township personnel/volunteers have taken their election duties to heart and to their continually high standard of ethical quality. This duty is taken seriously in Hayes, as it is in all townships in Clare County, but if misinformation, manipulation and distrust continue to spread, it can be expected that the county’s election workers will be tasked with some trying times come 2022.
It was a busy day at Hayes: annual audit, election testing, COVID-19 testing, and online classes, plus an ARPA webinar in the afternoon. Again, diligent, high standard of dedication to quality, a standard that Tessner-Rood said is a goal desired for all townships.
“We tell them, we want to see you succeed,” she said. “Because, if you fail, it gives a bad name to everybody. The more we can cooperate and work with each other… and the state’s going to have to do something for these smaller townships that don’t have a pool of people to draw from to do these jobs.”
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