Benson asks for probe into voting machine access in Roscommon County

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is asking the Attorney General's office and the Michigan State Police to investigate reports that an "unnamed third party" was granted access to voting technology in Roscommon County.

Benson, the state's top election official, announced the request in a statement Thursday. She also sent a letter to clerks across the state, saying Michigan law is "clear that unauthorized third parties may not have access to election technology and data."

"Our office has recently received multiple credible allegations of instances in which an unauthorized third party has been granted access to vote tabulation machines in violation of Michigan law," Benson's letter began.

At least one third party allegedly gained inappropriate access to tabulation machines and data drives used in Richfield Township and Roscommon County, according to the Secretary of State's office. Such access could require the equipment to be replaced at taxpayer expense, the office said.

Roscommon County Clerk Michelle Stevenson and Richfield Township Clerk Greg Watt didn't respond Thursday evening to requests for comment.

Richfield Township Supervisor John Bawol said he didn't know what Benson's statement was referring to.

Contracts with voting system vendors and state law restrict access to voting equipment to qualified personnel, the secretary of state's statement said.

"Michigan law is clear about the security threats that emerge when anyone gains unauthorized access to our election machines or technology, and I will have no tolerance for those who seek to illegally tamper with our voting equipment," Benson said.

Benson's Thursday statement mentioned that after the 2020 election, a northern Michigan judge allowed supporters of then-President Donald Trump to analyze tabulators and data in Antrim County. They used the access to create a report, making unsubstantiated claims of fraud. Election experts slammed the Allied Security Operations Group's findings as faulty and misleading

The report claimed to include a scan from an Election Systems & Software tabulator, the vendor that provides tabulators to all Roscommon County jurisdictions, Benson's Thursday statement said. In a corrected statement released later, her office said it was another submission in the same case in Antrim County that included an image from an Elections System and Software tabulator.