Michigan appeals court orders dismissal of election fraud charges against former election inspector News
© JURIST / Jaclyn Belczyk
Michigan appeals court orders dismissal of election fraud charges against former election inspector

The Michigan Court of Appeals ordered on Thursday the dismissal of charges against James Holkeboer, who had been charged with election fraud for actions he undertook working as an election inspector in the August 2022 primary election in the Gaines Township part of Kent County, Michigan.

Holkeboer was charged with using a personal USB drive to download a report that listed the name and voter number of each voter. Holkeboer claimed he copied the report “to compare those records with a ‘FOIA-able copy’ that he would obtain from the clerk’s office after the election.” Authorities charged Holkeboer under MCL 168.932, which states “[an election worker] shall not willfully destroy, mutilate, deface, falsify, or fraudulently remove or secrete any or all [voting records], in whole or in part, or fraudulently make any entry, erasure, or alteration on any or all of those items.”

Holkeboer’s defense argued—and the court agreed—that Holkeboer did not violate this section of Michigan law because he only copied the data. Holkeboer’s defense argued that he did nothing that “made election information unavailable or altered the nature of that information.” The court found, “[Holkeboer’s] conduct, while improper, did not violate MCL 168.932(c).”

Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons responded to the decision in a statement posted to X (formerly Twitter):

This is extremely disappointing. I’m deeply troubled the Court of Appeals did not see fit to hold accountable an individual who knowingly and secretly entered a personal flash drive into our election equipment, and without authorization obtained information for his own purposes, beyond the bounds of his duty as an election worker. Our citizens deserve to have faith in their elections and in those who work them, and this breach of public trust must be addressed…I look forward to an appeal of this decision. We will continue to do everything possible to keep Kent County’s elections secure, transparent, fair, and accurate.

Leading up to and following the 2020 US presidential election, claims of election fraud across the US increased. Former US president Donald Trump, who lost the 2020 presidential election, was a vocal proponent of election fraud claims, including claims of about manipulated voting machine systems and suspiciously high turnout in Democratic areas. Trump continues to repeat these claims, despite election watchdogs and experts repeatedly finding no evidence of any wrongdoing in the election.