Last October, we learned that the “brains” of a voting machine in Adams Township, Michigan had gone missing. Now we know a little more about what happened to it.
The scan unit tablet, which hosts sensitive election data and vendor software, went missing shortly after Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson banned Adams Township Clerk Stephanie Scott from overseeing municipal elections. Scott had allegedly refused to run accuracy tests on the voting machine due to unfounded fears that it would erase 2020 election data.
Reuters reported this week that the equipment was found by the state police locked away in a cabinet in Scott’s office.
Scott was also reportedly involved in a second election security breach. According to Reuters, the Republican clerk had handed confidential voter data to an information-technology expert named Benjamin Cotton.
Cotton appears to be a recurring contact for multiple people involved in breaches: In a sworn statement for an Arizona lawsuit, he said that he’d examined election systems in Coffee County, Georgia, and Mesa County, Colorado — the sites of two high-profile election breaches over the past year.
Scott’s lawyer Stefanie Lambert Junttila disclosed the second breach in an affidavit back in July, though it was first reported by Reuters this week. Junttila is another regular in the coordinated national attack on election security: Trump lawyer Sidney Powell enlisted the Michigan attorney as part of her “Kraken” team to verify the debunked claim that the 2020 election was rigged against the former president.
As Scott’s legal representative, Junttila cast Cotton as an expert who analyzed the township’s voting data for irregularities. That data was pulled from the township’s electronic pollbook, which holds confidential information such as voters’ drivers licenses and birthdays. Scott admitted to handing the data to Cotton in a board meeting on August 8th, Reuters reported, citing a video it obtained.
Junttila later claimed on a conservative podcast that Cotton had found “strong circumstantial evidence” of a rigged election, but Hillsdale County clerk Marney Kast, who replaced Scott, denied the claim. “I am not sure what records Mr. Cotton was looking at,” she said, but the number of voters matched the number of names in the pollbook.
Scott and Cotton are being investigated by a special prosecutor in Michigan for their alleged attempts to gain unauthorized access to the equipment, alongside nine other people, Reuters reported.
In a June email obtained by the outlet, a detective recommended that the state’s attorney general consider unspecified charges against Scott for her role in one of the breaches.
The breaches fit into a growing pattern of threats to election integrity from poll workers nationwide. Michigan is one of a few states that has seen a spate of such incidents. Last week, for example, another Michigan man inserted his own personal USB drive into an electronic poll book in Kent County. He’s since been charged with two felonies.