Retiring clerk: Attacks on election integrity ‘disheartening’

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo County clerk and register of deeds is spending his last days before retirement defending a successful election season.

Tim Snow has served the county for 24 years. He will retire at the end of the December.

“We’re all exhausted,” he said Friday. “We work innumerable hours. All of us go in the election business to ensure that the voters have a good experience and that they feel comfortable with not only the process, but the results. And to have that constantly questioned is very disheartening.”

News 8 sought Snow’s perspective after legislators at both the federal and state level signed on to a lawsuit filed by the Texas attorney general attempting to overturn the presidential results in key swing states, including Michigan. 

Kalamazoo County doesn’t use Dominion election software, which remains at the center of speculative fraud allegations. 

Snow says his office continues to receive open records requests related to its system and questions about how results were tabulated.

“Much of which is already on our website anyway, but asking about our software and what equipment we use,” he said. 

In previous years, the city of Kalamazoo saw roughly 7,000 absentee voters each major election. This November, it was tasked with processing three times as many

“That’s huge. That’s a huge difference and they added a few more people, but there’s only so many you can fit in a room to process these things,” Snow added, talking about the absentee voter counting board.

Snow, like many area clerks, spent much of the time leading up to the election telling voters to expect a delay in results given the sheer volume of absentee ballots to process. 

Many from both political parties also lobbied Lansing lawmakers for additional time. Current Michigan law only allows absentee ballots to be tabulated beginning on Election Day, even though those requested ballots can be sent out more than a month ahead. The Michigan Legislature ultimately approved 10 hours of preprocessing time for jurisdictions with at least 25,000 people.

“It didn’t really save a whole lot of time,” Snow said.

Grand Rapids, the largest jurisdiction in West Michigan to take advantage of the head start, was still tabulating its roughly 59,000 absentee ballots nearly 24 hours after the polls closed

“The public was told for months in advance that it was very, very probable that the election results were going to be late in one way or another,” Snow reiterated. “It was not a surprise. These were not mysterious ballots. These were what we had been working on and what (local clerks) in particular had been working on since they started to issue ballots back in September.” 

Despite widespread efforts by election officials to convey that message, many of the questions surrounding the results have to do with the time it took to process those ballots and how they were added to unofficial results.

“The difference this time was the volume (of absentee ballots) and if that volume is going to continue, which I suspect it will, we need to have some additional help in order to do that,” Snow explained. “The biggest help I think is the ability to start processing ballots early — earlier, at least. At least one day and preferably longer than that.”

He pointed to states like Florida, where election law allows processing as absentee ballots come in. That approach leads to an expedited tabulating process on election night, resulting in the state being one of the first to report its total unofficial results after polls close.

Snow, like other clerks right now, will be spending his final days in office conducting planned post-election audits. He said only one precinct in the county was not balanced and it was off by one vote. The few recounts conducted did not result in any changes.

“In fact, we had one tie that we had a recount on. It ended in a tie. If that doesn’t tell you that it was all done right, I don’t know what does,” Snow said.

ALLEGAN COUNTY CLERK WANTS MORE SECURITY MEASURES

Allegan County Clerk Bob Genetski says his county is his area of expertise and “there is not anything in Allegan County that would turn over the results.”

He has previously been critical of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and believes mailing out absentee applications in May violated election law.

“Fraud is much easier to prevent when people vote in person with an ID – the cry for ‘everyone to vote absentee’ makes it much tougher to prevent people from casting a ballot that does not belong to them. Random ballot receptacles strewn about a city, unsolicited AV ballot applications being mailed out by elected officials (against the law), acceptance of a digital signature (take from the state’s Qualified Voter File) on ballot application make it much easier for one (or many) to commit fraud, and a failure to verify a voter signature on a return envelope make it much easier for individuals or organizations to perpetrate fraud,” he wrote in an email.

Barry County Clerk Pam Palmer said every precinct in her county balanced after canvassing, but understands the questions in other areas like Detroit.

“I would have a hard time explaining the imbalances in the larger cities/jurisdictions, therefore, leading me to believe that they should be investigated,” she told News 8 Friday.

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