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Dominion rep address Houghton County residents

Screenshot from Zoom Houghton County Board members listen to Dominion representative Kurt Knowles answer questions about the company’s voting machines.

HOUGHTON — A representative from Dominion Voting Systems spoke at Houghton County Board meeting to address resident concerns that arose after the company became the subject of a variety of debunked conspiracy theories regarding the 2020 election.

Kurt Knowles is the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan representative for Election Shores, a Grand Rapids-based company that works with the 65 Michigan counties that use Dominion machines.

When new Dominion machines came to Houghton County in 2018, Knowles performed installation and trained township and city clerks on the new machines, he said.

Knowles’ territory includes Antrim County, where operator error led to unofficial results the next day giving Biden a 3,000-vote lead in the conservative county, which Trump won by nearly 4,000 votes. Commissioner Glenn Anderson asked Knowles to explain what happened.

The issue came about after the county had to update ballots to reflect some local races which had accidentally been omitted from the initial printing, Knowles said.

Dominion reprinted ballots with the correct information. Unfortunately, Knowles said, county election officials only updated the cards used in tabulation for the affected townships, instead of all townships. The machines recorded the votes accurately, Knowles said. The error came when the cards were brought in. Because the cads had not been properly configurated, data in some precincts were added incorrectly.

“You have, in my opinion, a very techie clerk, but Antrim County is probably the least techie folks I’ve worked with,” Knowles said. “And it was just errors that would have been caught within hours after it came up, from a citizen who just happened to be looking at the results overnight.”

The county published a corrected vote total the next day. The outcome was verified in a Dec. 17 audit in Antrim County, which involved a hand tally of the November ballots. The audit picked up 11 more votes for Trump, and one fewer for Biden. Knowles said the difference was normal.

“If an oval’s filled in very lightly, the machine might miss it, but human eyes do see it,” he said.

Knowles was also asked about an allegation the Chinese had hacked into Dominion machines in Keweenaw County. That couldn’t happen, Knowles said, since the machines are never hooked up to the Internet.

“When we have an election, everything’s complete, the ballots have gone to print, then a USB stick is sent via UPS to the county clerk, and that’s how she puts that information onto her election computer,” he said.

When the USB stick is sent, the password is also sent separately from the UPS package, Knowles said.

“Clerks go, ‘Oh, another darn step. What do we got to do this for?'” he said. “But we know why. It’s to heighten the security even more.”

The Keweenaw County allegations had been published by right-wing conspiracy theory site The American Report, which has since been taken down. The site’s allegations against China were among reports delivered to President Trump by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell last week, the Washington Post said.

Dominion has filed a $1.3 billion defamation suit against Trump-affiliated lawyer Sidney Powell, who included claims against Dominion in a series of unsuccessful court cases seeking to overturn the election. A number of news outlets have retracted their previous claims about Dominion after demands for retraction, including Fox News.

Board Chair Al Koskela brought on resident Erik Kiilunen to ask questions pooled from other residents. Knowles said he had not personally programmed the machines for the November election; that was done by programmers downstate, he said. Once candidate names are gathered by the clerks, they send it to Knowles, who organizes it to make it easier for the programmers to enter names, he said.

His biggest role is helping clerks with testing and doing troubleshooting on Election Day, Knowles said.

For public accuracy tests, Dominion provides pre-printed test decks, which clerks use during public accuracy tests to make sure the test totals align and each candidate is being counted correctly. Houghton, which has two precincts, received two test decks, each with 64 ballots, he said.

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