According to a local news report, approximately 300 absentee ballots from the 2020 election were discovered in a storage shed in Michigan.
Through the efforts of Thetford Township Supervisor Rachel Stanke, who discussed the matter with The Epoch Times, the ballots were discovered in a storage unit in Genesee County. This Michigan county includes Flint and Thetford Township.
Stanke said that she became mindful of the conceivable presence of the ballots in 2021, so, all in all, she said she reached the Michigan attorney general and secretary of state.
An employee at the township clerk’s office discovered the ballots in November 2021 while cleaning out a storage unit for the clerk, and Stanke was informed of their existence. The unnamed employee reported the documents to the clerk when the ballots were discovered, but it was unclear whether the discovery was ever made public. She then went to Stanke to inquire about the possibility of investigating the discovery further.
Stanke was connected to Jonathan Brater, the director of elections in the state, after contacting Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
During a phone call, Brater told Stanke that Thetford Township was one of about 20 places in the state that had been audited and that the election looked good even though Stanke found the ballots. Stanke stated that she was “frustrated” by this response in light of the employee’s discovery.
“So I get off the phone with him,” Stanke said. “And you know, we sent a couple of emails. I was a little frustrated.”
A few months later, Stanke contacted the worker who had discovered the ballots and informed her that Brater had told her there were no issues. However, if the employee agreed to testify, Stanke offered to file a report with the Michigan State Police, which she did.
Later, the previous deputy clerk of the township discovered the box of documents while she was cleaning out the storage unit. Stanke informed the Michigan State Police of the information and said she had a “hunch” that the documents were absentee ballots.
The most recent report was taken by a state trooper who visited Stanke’s residence.
The documents were finally recovered from the storage units after the state trooper spoke with the former employee who had discovered them and the deputy clerk.
Stanke stated, “he pulled out this box of documents that happened to be the 289 ballots.”
The voting forms were then shipped to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office for review. Nevertheless, Stanke could only obtain the audit’s findings through a Freedom of Information Act request.
It turned out that the discovered ballots had never been filled out. However, Stanke’s investigation of the situation still revealed potential issues.
Stanke explained the process behind absentee voting in Michigan: “The process of being an absentee voter is, you go get an application, complete your application, and submit it to the clerk’s office. The clerk is then responsible for sending you a ballot through the mail so you can vote at home at your residence. So these people made their application; they just never received their ballot in the mail.”
A voter can request that a ballot be “spoiled” so that it is no longer considered valid if it is not sent out, gets lost in the mail, or is never delivered for any reason.
Stanke stated, “From what we understand, there was a majority of these 289 ballots that people did write that letter.” However, those people were able to vote. They cast their vote after tampering with their initial ballot.
However, Stanke reported that not all the ballots had been spoiled, and contested characterized the situation as having had a relatively minor impact on the election.
“This is where my biggest concern comes off of that state audit: 39 people never got a ballot to vote. I am a person who says every vote should count. So you have 39 people in our township who did not even get a vote. I don’t think that there’s anything right about that.”
Twenty-six voters never spoiled their ballots, but Stanke reported that the audit’s findings still led them to vote in person. Stanke stated that this raised “red flags,” implying that some individuals might have been able to double vote if the ballots had been delivered as planned.
“So you’re telling me a person could have technically voted twice, right?” Stanke said. “I mean, that’s what I’m getting out of it—they had two active ballots. They voted in person, and they still to this day have an active ballot.”
“It’s very interesting to me that there are these cracks in our system,” Stanke continued.
She stated that while the ballots probably wouldn’t have affected national elections, they might have affected local elections. Only 19 votes separated Katie Hicks from her opponent for Thetford Township clerk. Stanke stated that if these ballots had been handled correctly, this outcome absolutely could have been different.
The allegations, presented to residents of Thetford Township at a meeting of the city, have received public commentary from Hicks.
“Now this is all coming out and … I’m kind of happy that it’s coming out because the election is right around the corner again,” Hicks said. “And it concerns me that this will take place again in 2024.”
Stanke reported that it could take years for such disputes to be resolved in court, although another election is coming up next year. This raises concerns that the issues that allowed this situation to occur could occur again in 2024.
President Joe Biden won Michigan, one of the most important battleground states in 2020, by a slim margin of 2.78 points.