Security group, Antrim Co. resident reviewing tabulators, election materials Sunday

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
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Correction: This story was corrected to say that Circuit Judge Kevin Elsenheimer ordered Antrim County to preserve its vote tabulation records.

A security group that's questioned Michigan's presidential results and is listed in at least one of the lawsuits challenging Michigan's election results is reviewing tabulators and other election materials in Antrim County. 

Allied Securities Operation Group and Village of Central Lake resident William Bailey will take forensic images of the county's 22 tabulators and review other election related material Sunday following a Friday court order allowing for the review. 

Antrim County Administrator Pete Garwood and county Clerk Sheryl Guy will be in attendance, according to a statement from the county. 

"The imaging is expected to take hours, no timeline has been given for the forensic team’s investigation and results," the statement said. 

Trump's campaign celebrated the review, with lawyer Jenna Ellis arguing on Fox News Sunday that the judge had granted "our team" access to the Dominion Voting Systems tabulators. She said the team would be there for roughly eight hours Sunday.

"We'll have the results in about 48 hours and that will tell us a lot about these machines," Ellis said. 

Antrim County and its Dominion Voting Systems software came under scrutiny last month when Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden initially was listed as leading in the Republican county. 

The county took down the results once they were brought to officials' attention and later posted correct results. Guy has said the mistake was the result of human error and that it would have been caught during canvassing. 

But on Friday, Antrim County Circuit Judge Kevin Elsenheimer, a former Republican lawmaker, ordered the county to "maintain, preserve and protect all records in its possession used to tabulate votes in Antrim County, to not turn on the Dominion tabulator in its possession and to not connect the Dominion tabulator in its possession to the internet."

Deon Harper, 50, of Oak Park, inserts his ballot in the tabulator after voting.

The clerk's office had already agreed to those terms, Elsenheimer noted. 

He also granted William Bailey's motion for a temporary restraining order, show cause order and preliminary injunction, which included requests that Bailey be permitted to take forensic images of the 22 precinct tabulators and investigate those images, thumb drives, software and "master tabulator." The clerk's office argues it does not have a "master tabulator."

It is unclear "what the court has in mind with this order," said Jake Rollow, a spokesman for Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. 

"However, what we know, and has been previously explained on numerous occasions, is that a human error by the Antrim County Clerk prompted results to be reported incorrectly," said Rollow. "Reporting errors are common, have no impact on tabulation, and are always caught and corrected in the county canvass if not before, as was the case in Antrim County."

More:Why a tiny Northern Michigan county pulled its election results

Bailey, a Village of Central Lake resident, asked the judge Nov. 23 for an investigation into the county's Dominion Voting Systems tabulators based on allegations that the Antrim County election "lacked all accuracy and integrity."

Allied Security Operations Group's Russell Ramsland, Jr. was listed in a lawsuit filed by lawyer Sidney Powell last week in Michigan seeking to overturn Biden's 154,000 vote win in Michigan. Ramsland raised concerns about spikes in votes tallied for Biden after 2 a.m. the day after the election.

The spike was expected by Michigan election experts ahead of Nov. 3 because more Republicans tended to vote on Election Day and more Democrats tended to vote absentee. Absentee ballots generally took longer to process and often showed up in vote tallies late on Nov. 3 or even the day after.

Bailey, in his filings, told the judge that he was one of the initial people to notice a vote reporting error that put Biden thousands of votes ahead of President Donald Trump in the Republican county the morning of Nov. 4.

Bailey said he alerted an election official to the issue, causing the results to be pulled down and later corrected to reflect a more than 5,000 vote lead for Trump in a county where a little more than 16,000 people voted. The clerk's office has said the error would have been caught during the canvassing process if the office wasn't alerted to it earlier.

The issue pushed the county into the center of a debate about the reliability of Dominion Voting Systems, which was used by 47 other counties in Michigan on Nov. 3.

More:Citing conspiracy theories, Michigan GOP electors ask court to name Trump winner

In his Friday order, Elsenheimer didn't mention the presidential vote misallocation, but instead focused on a proposed marijuana retailer ordinance in the Village of Central Lake, where a 262-262 tie was overturned by one vote after a Nov. 6 retabulation.

Three ballots were alleged to have been damaged, then reproduced to allow for retabulation but Bailey argued those ballots don't show up in the final count, Elsenheimer said. 

"Plaintiff argues that failure to include the damaged ballots in the retabulation resulted in the marihuana proposal passing and violated his constitutional right to have his vote counted," Elsenheimer wrote. 

The marijuana proposal was not mentioned in Bailey's pleadings, but may have been argued in Thursday oral arguments before Elsenheimer, a 2017 appointee to the 13th Circuit Court by Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder. 

Elsenheimer served in Snyder's administration as executive director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, chief deputy director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, and as executive director of the Michigan Workers’ Compensation Agency. 

Elsenheimer's Friday evening order was followed by a tweet from Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who called it a "BIG WIN FOR HONEST ELECTIONS."

"This is where the untrustworthy Dominion machine flipped 6000 votes from Trump to Biden. Spiking of votes by Dominion happened all over the state," he said. 

Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy told lawmakers last month that the error developed in October when the county attempted to make changes to its ballot to accommodate changes in races in the Clear Lake and Mancelona jurisdictions.

More:Michigan Republicans' election claims are 'fevered rantings,' Detroit lawyers say

When the software company, Election Source, sent her a flash drive to upload the changes, the changes were applied to just the Clear Lake and Mancelona jurisdictions when all of the county's Dominion Voting Systems tabulators should have received the updated software. 

The oversight resulted in a mix-up as data was transferred from the tabulators to the county's main voting software, giving Biden an unexpected lead shortly after 4 a.m. and pushing the county and Dominion Voting Systems into the national spotlight, Guy said. 

The county pulled its results off its website later that day when people started contacting officials, Guy said. Election Source eventually identified the source of the error. But even if the company hadn't, the error would have been discovered during the canvassing process by comparing the physical tabulator tapes — a scroll of paper recording the results — to the unofficial results in the main software, Guy said. 

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

Staff writer Craig Mauger contributed.

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