Breaking News
More () »

Kent Co. election worker accused of putting USB drive into poll machine

The incident happened during the August 2022 primary election at Gaines Township Precinct 8. The Clerk's office says this had no impact on the election results.

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — A man working during the August 2022 Primary Election is charged with falsifying records in Kent County, the prosecutor announced Wednesday.

James Donald Holkeboer was a township election worker at Gaines Township Precinct 8 on Aug. 18. That precinct is located at Ada Bible Church, 2045 68th Street SE.

He declined to talk to 13 ON YOUR SIDE reporter Andrea Flores outside his home, about an hour after the charges were announced. He did not provide a comment regarding the charges and said he needs to talk to his lawyer.

Holkeboer was an alternate Michigan GOP delegate for the 3rd Congressional District, according to the Kent GOP website

The August election was the first Holkeboer worked as an inspector, Kent County Chief Deputy Clerk Rob Macomber said.

Election workers are not employees of Kent County or Gaines Township, the Kent County Clerk's office said. 

After the polls closed, a witness allegedly saw Holkeboer put a personal USB drive into the Electronic Poll Book. This machine is a computer that election workers use to administer the election. The book contained voter registration data, including personal information about all the voters in the area.

The Election Poll Book is not connected to any of the vote tabulation equipment, nor is it connected to the internet.

Kent County Sheriff’s Office detectives wrapped up their investigation and sent it to the Kent County Prosecutor's Office.

 Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker charged Holkeboer with the following:

  1. Election law-Falsifying returns/records, felony punishable by up to 5 years and/or $1,000
  2. Using a computer to commit a crime, felony punishable by 4 years and/or $5,000, a consecutive sentence may be imposed for the underlying conviction.

"This incident is extremely egregious and incredibly alarming. Not only is it a violation of Michigan law, but it is a violation of public trust and of the oath all election workers are required to take," said Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons.

Posthumus Lyons says the incident had no effect on the election. 

"The breach of the Electronic Poll Book could not- and did not- allow any access to voting machines, ballots, or election results, and it could not have affected the outcome of the election itself," she said.

The clerk's office is conducting a post-election audit of the precinct and the Electronic Poll Book that was breached will no longer be used.

Online records show that more than 2,500 people are eligible to vote at that precinct, which means their information may have been compromised. A total of 343 people voted in person at the precinct during the election. 

Holkeboer will be arraigned in 63rd District Court, but no date has been set yet.

"Let me be very clear: voter fraud and illegal election activity in Kent County will not be tolerated," said Posthumus Lyons. "Our citizens deserve to have faith in their elections and in those who work them."

13 ON YOUR SIDE reached out to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson about the allegations. 

A department spokesperson shared this statement: 

“While our elections remain secure and safe, we take seriously all violations of election law and will continue to work with the relevant authorities to assure there are consequences for those who break the law. The breached equipment in this case has been decommissioned and will not be in use for the general election in November. Michigan voters can be confident that their votes will be counted accurately and securely.”

Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.

Have a news tip? Email news@13onyourside.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Before You Leave, Check This Out