HASTINGS, Mich. — Several local election clerks in Barry County said a private investigator recently questioned them about voting machines used during the 2020 Presidential election.
The Barry County Sheriff's office confirmed it launched an investigation after receiving a citizen complaint about voting machines connected to the 2020 Presidential election, more than eight months after voters cast their ballots.
Former President Donald Trump won Barry County with 65% of the vote, but lost the state of Michigan.
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf has claimed there was voter fraud during the 2020 election and tried to use the courts to seize voting equipment.
Sheriff Leaf did not return texts and calls for comment since he was out of the office Friday July 16, according to Barry County Undersheriff Jason Sixberry.
Local election clerks said they were questioned by a private investigator, who appeared with a Barry County deputy during the process.
Sixberry confirmed the department assigned a deputy to the investigation but declined to provide specifics about the complaint.
He said Sheriff's Office funds were not used to pay the outside investigator.
"I want to know the price tag and who’s paying because this is absolutely ridiculous and ludicrous," Rutland Township clerk Robin Hawthorne, said.
Local court clerks are raising concerns and question the investigation after hundreds of audits by state officials found no evidence of election fraud.
Hawthorne said a Barry County deputy and a private investigator paid her a visit a couple weeks ago. She said the investigator questioned her about how Dominion voting machines used in the 2020 presidential election were programmed.
Hawthorne said the investigator questioned whether the cards used to program the machines could have altered the votes.
"I’m offended, I’ve been a clerk for 18 years. I’m offended anyone would say there’s anything hinky about my elections," Hawthorne said.
Local election officials say Sheriff Dar Leaf Leaf refused to disclose the initial complaint that prompted the investigation.
"I don’t know what the next move is going to be. I don’t know what they’re going to do with this information," Palmer said. "Everything was canvassed and balanced perfectly. There was no signs of fraud."
Palmer said the investigator told her about plans to interview a majority of the 17 local election clerks in Barry County.
"I think what Dar is doing is using Barry County as a template trying to see if they can figure if there’s a way these machines to switch the vote from republican to democrat or democrat to republican," Palmer said.
The Dominion voting machines used in Antrim County were found to be accurate, despite claims that they malfunctioned. Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who company representatives say falsely accused the machines of rigging the 2020 presidential election.
Claiming that Michigan experienced massive election fraud, a federal judge dismissed an election lawsuit from Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf in Dec 2020 that involved debunked conspiracy theories and a request to order the preservation of all records from the election and to impound the voting machines and software used for the count.
Election experts said there's still a push for private audits of election machines by outside groups.
The Michigan Secretary of State's office said after 250 audits, officials found no evidence of election fraud.
Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt said she plans to meet with Sheriff Leaf on Monday to figure out what's behind the investigation.
"I'm still trying to understand what the complaint is. I never got a clear answer to any of that," Pratt said.