Kent County elections director combats Trump’s allegations of rigging

Posted at 5:12 PM, Oct 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-21 18:15:33-04

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — Donald Trump continues to make headlines, claiming the presidential election is rigged against him.  Hillary Clinton and Trump continue to trade insults and allegations, but local clerks are working hard to make sure their precincts are ready for election day, and they say rigging the system is a myth, at least here in Michigan.

Director of elections in Kent County, Sue Desteiguer, said the voting system has a web of checks and balances, ensuring its integrity to voters.

Not only does she disagree with Trump, but she said here in Michigan it simply can’t be done. The local clerks have been preparing for the election for weeks: sending out absentee ballots, new voter registrations, and training to work the machines and the ballots.

Desteiguer is worried the recent claims from Trump will have voters thinking the system is easily rigged.

“In response to all of the allegations that elections can be rigged, just to explain, in Michigan we are an optical scan state,” said Desteiguer.

Desteiguer has been in the business of elections for decades, and said the state of Michigan has a sure-fire system against voter fraud.

"Optical scan state" means there are paper ballots, and digital machines that scan and count the votes.

“Not only do we have the paper ballots to count physically again if need be, but then we also get the memory card from the inside that machine and read it electronically,” said Desteiguer.

Desteiguer said before the election, they do a test run to make sure all the machines are working and calculate correctly. She said they are 10 years old, so it’s an important step in their process.

They make a pre-determined test. They pre-mark ballots and know the exact results. They feed those pre-marked ballots into the machines, and make sure the machine calculated it all right. They seal those results, and reset the machine. They can pull out the test ballots and the machine’s results if they are asked to show if their voting machines work correctly, or are accused of voter fraud. The election commission will randomly pick a precinct in each county to check.

After the election is over, their job is still not done. Canvassing begins.

“Each precinct has a book and it says how many people voted and the names voted and we make sure that every person that applied for a ballot, a ballot was tabulated. I mean it's balancing your checkbook to the penny,” said Desteiguer.

After that, the director of elections works through November. She will be given 10 different precincts to audit. She has to go through and make sure everything was done correctly and there are no deficiencies.