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DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 04: A worker with the Detroit Department of Elections helps sort through absentee ballots at the Central Counting Board in the TCF Center on November 4, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. President Trump narrowly won Michigan in 2016, and both he and Joe Biden campaigned heavily in the battleground state in 2020. (Photo by Elaine Cromie/Getty Images)

Michigan

Michigan Election Official Charged With Ballot Tampering, Misconduct

A Michigan county elections official and former township clerk was charged with ballot tampering related to the August 2020 primary election, according to state Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Kathy Funk, who was running in 2020 as a Democrat for reelection as Flint Township clerk, also was charged with misconduct in office, Nessel said. The charges, which are both felonies, each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison upon conviction.

Nessel alleged that Funk purposely broke a seal on a container for ballots so that the votes couldn’t be totaled during an anticipated recount. She narrowly won reelection in the unofficial count, the attorney general’s office said.

“Election officials must uphold the integrity of their positions. Those who abuse that commitment undermine the very foundation of our democracy,” Nessel, a Democrat, said in a Twitter response to a ClickonDetroit report.

“Our department is committed to prosecuting election violations, regardless of the political party of the perpetrator.”

Nessel’s office didn’t provide any more details about the allegations against Funk.

After the August 2020 election, Funk filed a report with the Flint Township Police Department claiming there was a break-in at the election office and said a seal on a canister containing ballots had been broken, according to local reports. Her opponent, Manya Triplett, said she had considered a recount but, according to state election law, those votes couldn’t be included in a recount because of the tampering.

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Under Section 168.871 of Michigan state law, “the board of canvassers conducting a recount” has to look over “all ballots of a precinct using an electronic voting system” unless certain problems arise.

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The law stipulates that ballots cannot be recounted if “the seal on the transfer case or other ballot container” is broken or have a different number than recorded in the poll record book, among other circumstances. If the seal on the ballot “label assembly” is broken or if numbers don’t match the poll records or ballot labels, they cannot be counted, according to the Michigan Legislature’s website, which offers details of state voting law.

Funk later resigned as Flint Township clerk to become Genesee County’s elections supervisor, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Funk’s attorney told the news outlet that she is expected to enter a plea of not guilty.

“She says it’s absolutely not true,” attorney Matthew Norwood said of the charges, according to the outlet.

Genesee County officials and Norwood didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.

Jack Phillips

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