Genoa Township Clerk Polly Skolarus was acquitted Monday on a misdemeanor charge by a Livingston County District Court jury, and says the verdict was not just a victory for her “but for all clerks who as election officials should not have to be afraid of prosecution when doing their job.”
A single, misdemeanor charge of Election Law – Failure to Perform Duty was filed against Skolarus in March of 2021 following an investigation by Michigan State Police that determined unapproved canvas bags had been used to store excess absentee ballots used in the November 2020 election.
According to the report compiled by Detective Sgt. Michael Baker, multiple witnesses, including Livingston County Clerk Elizabeth Hundley, County Elections Coordinator Joe Bridgman, all four members of the Livingston County Board of Canvassers, Brighton Township Clerk Joe Riker, Green Oak Township Clerk Michael Sedlak, and Hamburg Township Deputy Clerk Mary Kuzner all stated they witnessed Skolarus and Genoa Township Clerk Mary Krencicki wheel in canvas bags to a November 9th canvassers meeting.
Skolarus had been asked to appear so that ballots from the absentee ballot counting boards (AVCB 1 & 2) could be retabulated based on a discrepancy between the ballots cast in the poll book versus the number of ballots counted by the tabulator. In and of itself, that is not an unheard-of occurrence and is usually rectified during the canvass of the election afterward.
According to the statements, as soon as Skolarus brought out the canvas bags, it was determined they were not approved to store ballots prior to final certification, as required by law. In her statement, Kuzner said she, Riker and Sedlak, were “stunned” that Skolarus had used the unapproved bags. She further said that Skolarus herself stated, “Oh my God, it’s totally my fault, I told them to use them, I don’t know what I was thinking.” Riker stated Skolarus “commented that they did not have enough certified bags for the election and used storage bags in its place. The county clerks (sic) office commented that the township should have contacted them and could have requested assistance from other municipalities that had extras. Polly Skolarus agreed that she should have done things differently.”
According to the report, Hundley consulted with Lori Bournonais from the State Bureau of Elections, after which the Board of Canvassers made a determination that the precincts in question were “uncountable.” Skolarus herself did not provide an official statement to Sgt. Baker for his investigation, but according to the report did say to him, “we ran out of room.”
Michigan law requires specific containers are to be used to store ballots once they are tabulated.
In a statement after the verdict, Skolarus told GIGO News that she was pleased with the outcome of the trial and that the acquittal should stand as an example for those who are trying to cast doubt on the security of the state’s elections.
“Having to go to trial on a criminal charge has been a real hardship for me after serving 36 as Clerk in Genoa Township. The 2020 election was the most difficult election ever considering the accusations of voter fraud even before the ballots were counted. My amazing Deputy Clerk Mary Krencicki and wonderful poll workers worked so hard to run a perfect election. I cannot thank them enough. We have 18,000 registered voters and 9,300 of them voted Absent Voter Ballot. That our representatives in this State of Michigan would even question the validity of the ballot is unconscionable. That voters should be concerned that their vote may not have been counted is unconscionable. Our representatives in Lansing should be shouting that they are proud of the election process in Michigan instead of casting doubt.”