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Despite worries over election rigging, officials confident in Michigan systems

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claims there will be “large-scale voter fraud” this election. But election officials say they’re confident that will not be the case in Michigan. 

“We want to assure everyone, regardless of their political ideology or their partisan affiliation that their voice will be heard on election day and their voice will be counted,” said Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for Michigan’s Secretary of State.

Woodhams says this isn’t the first election he’s fielded these concerns, and guesses it won’t be the last.

He says every voting precinct in Michigan uses paper ballots. So recounts can be done if needed.

He says none of the tabulators are hooked up to the internet, and they are all tested ahead of the election in a public place where anyone can watch.

In addition to the 30,000 precinct workers across Michigan, a slew of people will also monitor polls on Election Day.  

Trump is also encouraging people to go observe the polls on Election Day over concerns of election fraud.

Grand Rapids clerk Darlene O’Neal says every polling location has a designated “viewing area.”

“Anyone can come and watch. It’s an open and transparent process,” O’Neal said.

O’Neal says observers cannot challenge voters or the process. Only trained, certified “challengers” can do that. Those challengers have to present their credentials to poll workers. They can question whether a voter is old enough, a U.S. citizen, registered at the proper polling location and by the registration deadline.

Most challengers are affiliated with major political parties. They can only designate two per precinct.

“I’m very comfortable with anyone from the community coming to watch because here in Grand Rapids we train to the process. So I am very confident in my election workers’ ability to facilitate the process properly,” O’Neal said.

For the first time in recent history, people in Grand Rapids can vote absentee on a Sunday. O’Neal decided to open this Sunday and expects a good turnout.

O’Neal says anyone who thinks they might qualify to vote absentee should try.

You can vote absentee if you are:

  • age 60 years old or older
  • unable to vote without assistance at the polls
  • expecting to be out of town on Election Day
  • in jail awaiting arraignment or trial
  • unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons
  • appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.
Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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