A poll worker in a western Michigan city has been charged with two offences after allegedly plugging a flash drive into a computer with sensitive voter registration data during an August election, local officials said on Wednesday.
At the primary association on August 2, according to a statement from district employee Lisa Posthumus Lyons, a poll worker was seen plugging a USB drive into the computer used to manage the election, in a district in Gaines Township in Kent County.
The incident underscores the so-called “insider threat risk,” which has increasingly worried election officials, particularly in battlefield states such as Michigan, where falsehoods about systemic voter fraud were the most widespread in the 2020 election.
“This incident is extremely egregious and incredibly alarming. This is not only a violation of Michigan law, but also a violation of public trust and the oath that all poll workers must take,” Lyons said in the statement.
Chris Becker, the county prosecutor, said he charged poll worker James Donald Holkeboer with falsifying voting records and using a computer to commit a crime. If convicted, he could face up to nine years in prison.
Holkeboer could not immediately be reached for comment.
While Lyons did not name Holkeboer, she said the incident involved one of the “everyday citizens who were trained and certified by employees to work in the districts and absent district authorities” and was not an employee of the county or community of Gaines.
The poll worker was seen by a witness in a district in Gaine’s Township plugging a USB drive into the electronic ballot book, the computer used to manage the election. The election book contains voter registration information, including confidential information that may not be published under Michigan laws.
According to Lyons, the violation had no effect on the results of the primary association in August, as it occurred after the files had already been stored in the district’s encrypted system. She said the survey book was not connected to tabulation equipment or the Internet.
There were a number of security breaches involving voting equipment in Michigan following the 2020 presidential election, with supporters of former President Donald Trump and his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud having access to tabulators at various locations across the state searched.
Last month, attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, appointed a special prosecutor to oversee the criminal investigation that her office had launched over the security breaches. She tried to resign from the investigation because her Republican challenger in the November election, Matt DePerno, was among the nine people facing possible charges.
A spokesperson for the Michigan Secretary of State said the injured equipment in Gaine’s Township was decommissioned and would not be used in the November general election.