By Donna Gundle-Krieg
Antrim County, MI – By now, the 2020 Christmas season is in full swing, and most Americans have accepted Joe Biden as the new president. In fact, many of us are tired of hearing about the divisive 2020 election.
However, the ongoing saga of what happened and is still happening with the Antrim County, Michigan election results have many local citizens concerned about the integrity of our future elections, especially the operation of the Dominion voting machines.
Of particular concern is a lawsuit filed against Antrim County regarding election irregularities, which has not been resolved and continues to gain national attention.
I also administer a citizen discussion page following the Antrim County Commissioner meetings, and county issues. This page has had postings and comments from many people directly involved in the investigation, including Commissioners, State Representatives, people who worked on the election and recount, and more.
These election issues are difficult for most of us to grasp at a national level, but at a local level they become real. In addition, there are many ways that we can impact local officials. For example, we have important leadership changes coming up on the County Commission, and new voting machines are being discussed at the local and state level. In addition, Commissioner Dawn Lavanway made a motion to have the prosecutor look into what happened to the deleted files on the Clerk’s computer. This motion was inappropriately tabled.
Regardless of where any Antrim County citizen stands politically, we are the county! We are the ones bring sued. Therefore, we need to pressure our various officials to keep us informed about the lawsuit, and we need our leaders to address the problems with our election procedures and equipment.
Below is a summary of the facts, with links to much more detail. Even though people are tired of this issue, it is not going away soon! It is very important that we all stay informed.
Antrim, a tiny rural county in northern Michigan, gained national attention on the day after the election, when an issue skewed the initial election results for the presidential race. Initial results showed Joe Biden winning the county, but corrected results showed President Trump winning the county by more than 2,000 votes.
The issues, according to the County Clerk and Secretary of State, were due to human error and a failure to properly update software when there were ballot changes.
These same voting machines were purchased by many counties through the state of Michigan, utilizing a grant managed by the state. They were first used by Antrim County in 2018. The Michigan Senate and House has held oversight hearings about these machines, recently questioning both the county clerks and officials from Dominion Voting Systems.
While the Senate hearings were occurring, real estate broker William Bailey, a Central Lake resident, filed a lawsuit against Antrim County.
Bailey’s statement said:
I have believed since the day after the November 3rd general election that voter fraud may have happened in Antrim County via the Dominion Voting Systems and other electronic voting equipment used in Antrim County. Approximately 6,000 votes flipped in Antrim County all helping Joe Biden. This should have never happened. I do not believe this was human error. I never bought into that narrative.
Bailey asked to being his cyber-security experts into the county, to do a forensics report on the voting machines. “No matter what side of the political aisle you reside on, we all want/need to know that our votes count and that our Electoral Process in Antrim County is secure,” he stated.
On December 4, Judge Kevin Elsenheimer ruled that Antrim County had to give Bailey’s team the information requested. The cyber-experts flew into Antrim County, while the county officials scrambled to manage the publicity and logistics of the audit.
The experts’ report was authored by Russel Ramsland, a cyber-security analyst and Trump supporter, who is part of the management team for the Allied Security Operations Group. On December 14th, Elsenheimer ruled that the plaintiff could release the results of the report to the public, with redactions.
Ramsland’s report said analysts found a 68 percent “error rate” in the tabulation log of the server. “We have the Dominion logs, the judge made us redact them,” he explained. “Dominion’s own logs state that there were Excel files for adjudication uploaded and downloaded. However, adjudication records are gone, though they are there for previous years.”
When John Poulos, the Dominion CEO, testified before the Senate, he called Ramsland’s report “categorically false and technically incomprehensible.”
During all the back and forth, the state of Michigan joined in the lawsuit, which continues. At the last county meeting, Ed Boettcher, Chairman of the Antrim County Commissioners mentioned that there were many questions that the county is required to answer, as part of the interrogation process.
Despite what he feels is hard evidence, Ramsland is not convinced that the courts will ever settle this issue. “I think it’s going to be settled by legislators.” he said.
Based on the findings, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson ordered a hand recount of the county’s presidential election ballots at the Kearney Township hall in Bellaire, MI, where Bailey’s Attorney Matthew DePerno and 6 officials from Benson’s office were present to observe and ensure the volunteer poll workers did not stray away from their objective.
A video of the audit shows a volunteer questioning “multiple ballots with the same signature.” The official in the video can then be seen asking the volunteer to ignore what they believe is voter fraud, and count the ballots in order to move forward. “We understand that there is a concern with this precinct—but this is not a time for you to be investigating right now,” the official stated.
Bonnie Tipton Robbins, a township trustee and deputy clerk for Helena Township, was the person in the video asking the questions of the Secretary of State official, who happens to be a registered Democrat. Her partner in the recount was Greg MacMaster, a former Republican State Representative.
“Audits do not investigate potential fraud or irregularities and the Board of Elections representative clearly stated they were not concerned with facts, or had any intention of trying to get an accurate, factual finding,” stated Robbins. “Truth was not needed in this audit and not the goal of the audit.”
While the Secretary of State feels that the audit put all questions to rest, the lawsuit continues and many questions remain unanswered.
Public comment went for well over an hour at the December 17th Antrim County Commissioner meeting, with many citizens calling for County Administrator Pete Garwood to resign over some of his actions while managing the litigation. In addition, the following questions were asked by various citizens regarding the election and the report: 1. Who deleted the adjudication files? 2. Who deleted the maintenance file? 3. Who on November 21st tried unsuccessfully to delete files? 4. Who removed 1329 votes for Biden after election on the computer files?
At 1:02 in this video of the December 17th county meeting, Boettcher remarked: “There was misinformation during public comment that were inaccurate, but I feel we had to let that slide because we are in litigation. There are many questions that we are being compelled to respond to in the lawsuit, and we will and we are. Pete was directed by the Board to follow the Court order. He never contacted Dominion, and never proposed that Dominion come in prior to or with the forensic group. Just because it was said on a website does not make it a truth.”
Commissioner Dawn LaVanway then stated that she was not even made aware that the experts were coming to Antrim County. “I don’t feel that I had a say on anything. I didn’t tell Pete to do anything. There is a lot of misinformation between all of us. I am not aware of a lot of stuff. I find out after the fact.”
“There were a lot of questions asked by the public tonight, and I think it’s important that we find out what happened,” she continued. “Don’t you think we owe it to the voters to answer questions that the public might have? Isn’t that the role of the prosecuting attorney?”
LaVanway then made a motion to have the prosecuting attorney look into the questions of who deleted the files. “It’s not about whether the ballots matched the tabulator. What happened to the maintenance file? What happened on November 21st?”
LaVanway’s motion was seconded by both Terry Vanalstine and Josh Watrous. However, before the motion could be brought to a vote, Karen Bargy moved to table it, citing ongoing litigation. Even though there was no second to Bargy’s motion to table, Boettcher allowed it.
The Chair and Vice-Chair did not allow all Antrim County citizens to be represented by a vote on this motion. They disrespected their fellow commissioners and the citizens by making the decision on their own.
When I asked Boettcher why he did this, he stated: “I allowed the motion to be tabled because our board rules, as agreed to by all commissioners, allows for any one commissioner to table an action not on the agenda and not allowing commissioners 3 days to research.”
He continued: “The clerk is elected by the people. The prosecutor is elected by the people.The board has no control over elected positions. We can’t direct the Prosecutor or the Clerk to take any specific action.”
At the January meeting, the Commissioners will vote for a new Chair and Vice-Chair. Hopefully they will elect people who does a better job respecting the others, and respecting the voters.
Boettcher and Garwood also told us that “we” will answer the questions in the lawsuit. However, will they keep the public informed of these answers? My fear is that they will play their usual games, and claim that privacy is necessary. Then all of this will be swept under the rug. We deserve better.
Opinion Article by Donna Gundle-Krieg