Michigan County Poll Clerks Are Sure Your Vote Will Count
We don’t agree on much, politically. We have different philosophies and different visions for our country. But as Republican and Democrat clerks in Michigan, there’s one thing we unequivocally agree on: Our elections are safe, secure and, above all, sacred.
As county clerks in a swing state, we have overseen elections where the candidates we support win and the candidates we support lose. But no matter what, our job never changes: we make sure every vote is counted and we report accurate results to the public. That’s how it works in America. But in recent years, the rise of a false narrative that our elections are “rigged” has caused some Americans to lose faith in the process. As election officials, we are determined and professionally obligated to rebuild it.
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To be clear, no one should reject those who have doubts. While there are plenty of people promoting misinformation for their own personal gain, there are also everyday Americans who are suddenly unsure that their vote will really count.
So, let’s start with the facts.
Here’s how it works in Michigan:
As county clerks, we oversee the preparation and administration of elections. We predict floods, tornadoes, power outages, road closures and everything in between.
Before each election, voting equipment is publicly tested locally to ensure it meets Michigan standards for security and accuracy. From then on, every move your ballot makes is chaperoned by Republicans and Democrats.
Each constituency is run by bipartisan poll workers, and every vote is counted under the eyes of official observers from both parties. Bipartisan commissions of county canvassers verify the poll books, voters lists, and vote totals for each precinct.
Any candidate is entitled to request a recount after certification of the results. After the election is over, county clerks begin the post-election audit process, which consists of a 77-point checklist of items verifying the proper conduct of the election, including a manual ballot count polls in selected constituencies to ensure accurate results. .
When public service generates death threats
We embarked on this work because we love our country and believe in democracy. After years of monitoring elections, we know that local-level election officials feel the same way. Like us, they are Americans. When they’re not helping you vote, they collect from the church or collect milk from Meijer. They are your neighbors. They love this country like you. And the work they do keeps our democracy going. But poll workers are now facing threats — even death threats — simply for doing this job. These threats also lead some local elected officials to leave office or retire, depriving us of their decades of knowledge and know-how. And it’s happening just as misinformation — from broader lies about a stolen election to smaller, specific lies about voters being removed from rolls — is becoming more mainstream and more sophisticated.
These are not just personal security threats. These are real threats to the republic. We must take action to restore trust, disarm misinformation, and protect our elections, our election workers, and democracy.
It starts with even more transparency. Because when people understand how comprehensive election security is and how many checks and balances are built into the election systems of all 50 states, they are more comfortable. And while county clerks are already overstretched and under-resourced, we have an obligation to do everything in our power to reach out to those who might have doubts. Organize town meetings. Create public service announcements. Open our doors and show our communities how secure our elections are.
Our elections are truly sacred, but they only work when everyone – from governors and clerks to poll workers, voters and candidates – believes in them and works to protect them for everyone. If you have any doubts or concerns about election security, contact your local election officials, attend town halls and webinars, and learn about the checks and balances in place. Get to know the people who work at polling stations in your riding. They really are your neighbors.
And know this: If we catch anyone, Democrat or Republican, trying to jeopardize an election in our counties, we will lock up the guns and push to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. Our democracy is too important not to be – and that’s something we can all agree on.
Barb Byrum is the Ingham County Clerk. Justin Roebuck is the Ottawa County Clerk.