A volunteer election worker in Michigan is facing two felony charges after allegedly inserting a personal USB drive into a precinct computer during the Aug. 2 primary.
Kent County prosecutor Chris Becker announced Wednesday that he has charged James Donald Holkeboer with falsifying election records and using a computer to commit a crime in the incident, Reuters reported. If convicted of the charges, he could face up to nine years in prison.
The incident took place in Gaines Township, a suburb of Grand Rapids in the western part of the state. Kent County Clerk Lisa Poshumus Lyons called it “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,” Lyons said in a statement, Reuters reported.
A witness saw the election worker, identified as a registered Republican by Michigan Public Radio, put a USB drive into the electronic poll book, which contains confidential voter registration data, Lyons said.
However, she clarified that these actions did not compromise the election, since the information in the poll book had already been saved to an encrypted system, Reuters reported.
The man was reportedly not an actual employee of Kent County but was a local resident who had been certified to work the election, MLive reported.
Lyons identified him as one of the “everyday citizens trained and certified by clerks to work the precincts and absentee county boards,” Reuters reported.
This incident comes in the midst of many concerns over election security in the past two years, according to Reuters.
But Lyons told residents that she would not allow any kind of illegal activity and she is trying to make sure that elections remain safe and secure.
“Let me be very clear: voter fraud and illegal election activity in Kent County will not be tolerated. Our citizens deserve to have faith in their elections and in those who work them,” Lyons wrote, according to MLive.
“I will do everything possible to keep Kent County’s elections secure, transparent, fair, and accurate. If someone or something threatens that, we will take aggressive action to protect our elections and hold those responsible accountable,” Lyons added.
A spokesman from Michigan’s Secretary of State announced that the equipment that was breached by the election worker in Kent County will not be used in November’s upcoming general election, according to Reuters.
“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,” spokeswoman Angela Benander told the news outlet in an emailed statement.
UPDATE, Sept. 29, 2022: This article was updated with the party affiliation of the accused.
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