Muskegon clerk spots ‘irregularities’ in voter registration applications

Elections

A look inside the Muskegon city clerk’s office as staff process voter registration forms and check in absentee ballots. (Oct. 20, 2020)

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The Muskegon city clerk says her office caught hundreds of “irregular” voter registration applications, and while police are investigating the source, they say the applications won’t impact the election.

Those irregularities, according to Muskegon City Clerk Ann Meisch, include voter information on forms that did not match information listed in the Secretary of State’s database.

None of the forms flagged as “irregular” resulted in any ballots being sent out incorrectly.

“Three weeks ago, we started receiving boxes of voter registration applications. When we started to enter them, we noticed irregularities,” Meisch told News 8. “When those items are not matching, that immediately puts up a red flag for us.”

While Meisch said it’s typical to get a few irregular voter registration forms, she said her office was seeing more than what it usually receives.

“We received about 6,000 voter registration applications,” Meisch said. “Most of them were valid, but several hundred had those type of irregularities that we knew were not right.”

Last week, Meisch’s office turned over the flagged applications to the Muskegon Police Department, the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. 

Muskegon Police Capt. Shawn Bride told News 8 that while his department is investigating where the irregularities came from, there’s no concern they could affect the outcome of Tuesday’s election.

“Despite claims to the contrary, this investigation is in no way related to ballots,” Bride said. “There is no expected impact on any election.”

The irregularities still caused a headache for the clerk’s office.

“It cost us hundreds of hours of work, but the great part is we brought in our retired staff who is very experienced and made sure that people who were valid were registered. We got it done, but again, it was a lot of work,” Meisch said.

A spokesperson for Michigan State Police released the following statement Friday night on the investigation:

“The Michigan State Police, in tandem with the Attorney General’s office, Michigan Department of State and Muskegon Police Department, is working on an investigation into possible voter registration irregularities. This investigation is ongoing. No arrests have occurred.

“The investigation was initiated by the Muskegon Police Department after the Muskegon City Clerk’s Office reported irregularities in voter registration forms both mailed and dropped off in-person in quantity in late September and October 2020. The Muskegon Clerk’s office reported the irregularities with the Michigan Bureau of Elections, which reported it to the Attorney General and Michigan State Police. Despite claims to the contrary, this investigation is in no way related to ballots or ballot drop boxes. None of the irregular voter registrations in Muskegon resulted in voters receiving absentee ballots, any resulting registrations have been voided, and there is no expected impact on any election.”

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