Hillsdale County offi­cials are con­fident that Hillsdale votes are accurate. Courtesy | Col­legian

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.”