Primary ballots found on road in Florence Township

County Clerk Oswald: Tabulator machines to be 'reprogrammed' for March election

FLORENCE TOWNSHIP — Tabulator machines for the March presidential primary election will be “reprogrammed” in St. Joseph County for security purposes following an incident where ballots were found on a road in Florence Township.

According to a press release from the St. Joseph County Clerk’s Office, ballots for the March 10 primary were supposed to be delivered to Florence Township clerk Allissa Bowers on Tuesday, Jan. 21. However, on Wednesday, Jan. 29, Bowers informed the County Clerk’s office that the township did not have the ballots.

New ballots were “reordered immediately,” according to the release, and delivered the next day. Bowers confirmed to the Commercial-News Wednesday the township has received the re-ordered ballots from Jan. 29.

According to the release, there were “no security concerns” at first about the original missing ballots, because the ballots were “believed to have been incinerated.” Oswald clarified in an interview with the Commercial-News Wednesday that Bowers told her originally someone brought them in her house, which doubles as her office, and were “accidentally burned with the trash.”

On Monday, Feb. 3, the Clerk’s Office was notified by a local resident of ballots found on a road in Florence Township. Oswald told the Commercial-News those ballots were the ballots that were originally supposed to be delivered to the township on Jan. 21.

Oswald said how the original ballots ended up on the road in the first place is currently under investigation by Michigan State Police.

Because not all of the original ballots were accounted for, Oswald will be “reprogramming” the tabulator machines for the March 10 election for security purposes. According to the release, there is “no chance” of the original missing ballots going through the tabulators during the election.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or

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