Police recover missing voting equipment in Adams Township

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Michigan State Police recovered missing election equipment Friday at the Adams Township hall after an election administrator reported it missing earlier this week. 

Officials are attempting to determine whether the equipment was tampered with and will "continue fighting to hold accountable anyone who threatens the integrity or security of Michigan Elections," Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's office said Friday. 

The office declined further comment on the case citing the pending investigation.

As of Thursday, the Hillsdale County clerk had planned to use county election equipment to conduct the Adams Township elections Nov. 2 after discovering a key element of a township tabulator was missing following the township clerk's removal from election duties. 

In this Nov. 5, 2020, file photo, a county election worker scans mail-in ballots at a tabulating area at the Clark County Election Department in Las Vegas.

Bureau of Elections Director Jonathan Brater on Monday removed Adams Township Clerk Stephanie Scott from her duties related to the election and tasked Hillsdale County Clerk Marney Kast's office with administering the township election after Scott refused to submit the tabulator for maintenance.

Kast, a Republican, said her office retrieved the tabulator, which was in a locked suitcase, and a voter assist terminal and brought them back to the county office to prepare for a Wednesday public accuracy test. 

When she opened the tabulator suitcase Tuesday, the tabulator tablet — which Kast described as the "brains of the tabulator" — was missing. 

Kast's office contacted Scott and asked her to return the tablet by 8 a.m. Wednesday, but Scott responded that she was in contact with an attorney, Kast said. Scott did not say whether she had the tablet. 

The Michigan Bureau of Elections maintains Scott refused to perform preventative maintenance or perform and sign off on public accuracy testing on township voting equipment. She also is alleged to have failed to confirm that she would use certified Hart Intercivic Inc. voting equipment, the township's current vendor, for future elections.

"Your past statements, detailed in prior letters, indicate that you are unwilling to fulfill your responsibilities as clerk, and you have failed to confirm that you will fulfill them in response to recent correspondence," Brater wrote. 

Scott, a Republican who told The Detroit News Monday that she now considers herself more of an independent, has wrestled with the Elections Bureau over the past several months over concerns she had about the security of the township's tabulators. 

Scott, who has various QAnon material on her social media account, told The News she didn't want to turn the township tabulator in for maintenance because she feared the county would erase information on the equipment, particularly as it related to the November 2020 presidential election. 

Brater noted in correspondence with the clerk that all data from the November 2020 and March 2021 elections was being stored in an election management system run by Hillsdale County. He also said the required biennial maintenance of the equipment would not "destroy any records required to be maintained under federal or state law."

eleblanc@detroitnews.com