President Donald Trump claims there were widespread voter fraud and other voter irregularities across the state of Michigan, but in Hillsdale County, officials say they are confident the county’s election results are correct and complete.
Hillsdale County Clerk Marney Kast said she is dedicated to upholding the legal vote-counting process in Hillsdale County.
“Not only does every county clerk have to take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Michigan, but prior to every election, each election inspector must take an oath as well. We must earn and keep the trust of the public we serve,” Kast said in an email.
According to Kast, the 2020 general election saw a 2% increase in voter turnout from 2016 in Hillsdale County. Due to the increase in absentee ballots and mail-in voting, the election results have taken longer to finalize, and some counties in Michigan have seen allegations of voter fraud.
In 2018, Michigan residents voted to pass the “No Reason Absentee Voter” proposal, which took away the requirement of providing a reason to obtain an absentee application. Due to COVID-19, an absentee application was sent to every registered voter in Michigan.
“The COVID – 19 pandemic played right into the hands of the secretary of states across this nation,” Kast said. “The state did not check into whether voters were still residing at that residence, or if the voter residing there was deceased.”
Votes are inspected by a board of canvassers, arranged through machines, and then sent to the county.
“Our board of canvassers is composed of two Republicans and two Democrats, which are appointed positions by the local political parties,” Kast said. “They work together as a team and do a thorough job making sure every precinct is in balance and every legal ballot is accounted for.”
Most townships in Michigan were unable to open mail-in ballots until election day, which slowed down the vote tabulation process.
“We brought on a few more inspectors to help the process a lot,” said Hillsdale City Clerk Katy Price. “We had to social-distance, and then clean of course, so that took a little more time, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. Towards the end, we were able to basically get everything counted and balanced out.”
Voter fraud has been a concern across the nation this year, with President Trump suing Michigan last week to stop the certification process of ballots until access was granted to his campaign in watching the vote-counting process. Both mail-in voting and the vote-counting process have been cited as potential sources of fraud.
“Many people did not want to trust the mail system and preferred to drop off their ballot or vote in person,” Kast said.
Kast said she’s confident in the county’s training of election officials and their work.
“I go above and beyond training our election inspectors, so they have the tools to carry out the election process the way it was designed to be carried out according to the election laws,” she said. “I can assure you that I would never allow any dishonest or fraudulent activity in Hillsdale County. Honor is a big part of our system and must be maintained in our society.”