By Mary Drier
AKRON — Two Akron Township men are being investigated for possible election fraud for allegedly not properly following election procedures when circulating recall petitions against an Akron Township official.
The allegations of improper procedures stem from when recall petitions were being circulated in February for the seventh time to attempt to have wording approved to have Clerk Ann Allen removed from office.
That recall attempt was authored by Gerald Desimpelaere, Sr., while the other failed attempts were initiated by Lyle Houthoofd. The actions of both men in how petitions were circulated and signed have been scrutinized by a detective at the Michigan State Police (MSP) Post in Caro and forwarded to the Tuscola County Prosecutor’s office for a review of possible charges.
“We have the MSP report and are in the process of reviewing it,” said Chief Assistant Prosecutor Eric Wanink.
According to county Clerk Margie White, signatures on petitions have to be: registered voters within the township, signed by the person, be dated, have the person’s address, and also “have to be signed by the person who circulated the petition.”
“The last part of that is what’s being questioned,” said White. “There’s a warning at the bottom of each petition that the person who circulated it is the one who has to sign it.”
Complaints were made that others besides Desimpelaere and Houthoofd circulated the petitions, but only Desimpelaere’s and Houthoofd’s names were on the petitions as circulators when they were filed with White.
The bottom of each recall petition says: “Warning – A circulator knowingly making a false statement in the above certificate, a person not a circulator who signs as a circulator, or a person who signs the name other than his or her own as circulator is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
“Someone from the Michigan State Police asked me some questions about this and took some of the petitions with them to investigate,” said White.
While the Michigan Election Commission upholds all election regulations, it holds the rules for recall petitions to a higher standard of scrutiny.
By Mary Drier