GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Gaines Township election worker faces two felony charges for allegedly inserting a USB into equipment used in the August 2022 election.
Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker has filed two charges against James Donald Holkeboer: falsifying election returns or records and using a computer to commit a crime. If convicted, he could face up to nine years in prison and $6,000 in fines.
According to Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons, after primary election polls closed on Aug. 2, someone said they saw Holkeboer insert a personal USB drive into the electronic poll book at Gaines Township Precinct 8.
An electronic poll book is a computer that holds voter registration data, including confidential, personal identifying information about voters in that precinct, Posthumus Lyons explained. It is not connected to the internet. You cannot access voting machines, ballots, tabulation equipment or election results through an electronic poll book, so Posthumus Lyons said the outcome of the election was not affected.
Holkeboer allegedly inserted the USB after the files in the electronic poll book had already been saved in the precinct’s authorized, encrypted system device, which had been sealed in a certified container, as is normal procedure.
Posthumus Lyons said Holkeboer was working as a township election worker at the time and was not an employee of Kent County or Gaines Township.
Holkeboer has a Republican Party affiliation, a source close to the investigation told News 8. It appears that this the first election he had volunteered to work in, the source said. The source could not confirm why Holkeboer may have inserted the USB.
In a Wednesday statement, Posthumus Lyons said she found out about it on Aug. 18 and contacted Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young, who opened an investigation. When detectives finished the investigation, it was turned over to Becker, who then issued charges.
Posthumus Lyons said her office will conduct a post-election audit of the precinct, which will tally the paper ballots to reaffirm the results to reassure voters. The electronic poll book that was allegedly breached will not be used in future elections.
It’s unclear when Holkeboer will be arraigned.