- The Washington Times - Friday, September 2, 2022

Michigan State Police are now investigating exactly how a tablet-sized voting machine from Colfax, Michigan went missing before being sold online twice.

The machine — a voter assist terminal or VAT that helps disabled voters mark their ballots — went missing before the August primary, according to election officials.

“It is a tablet for handicapped voters. No election data is on it. It was never used by the public and I’m the only person who voted on it in six or seven years,” Colfax Township Clerk Becky Stoddard told the Cadillac News.

It is unknown how long before the primaries the equipment went missing.

All Wexford County voting equipment was returned to the county election office for updates at the end of March, according to county officials.

At some point after that, the VAT ended up at Goodwill in Cadillac, Michigan, and from there it was turned over to Goodwill Northern Michigan’s e-commerce division, which listed it online at $7.99.

Ean Hutchison, an Uber driver in Miamisburg, Ohio, who resells electronic parts and machines on eBay, purchased the machine. He recognized that the machine, which had a sticker saying “Colfax” on it, was used in Michigan elections.

“I wasn’t even aware that they were supposed to be sold, let alone donated to Goodwill,” Mr. Hutchison told CNN. 

From there, Mr. Hutchison put the VAT up for sale on eBay, with the auction price starting at $250. If a buyer paid $1,200 upfront, they would skip the auction.

“This voting machine was one of thousands used in the 2020 United States presidential election and included in one of the many lawsuits against Dominion that were thrown out,” the listing read.

Election security expert Harri Hursti, who lives in Connecticut, spotted the ad on eBay and paid the $1,200 purchase price.

When it arrived at his residence, he contacted the office of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, which oversees elections held in Michigan.

Mr. Hursti was instructed not to open the box in case it needed to be checked for fingerprints, and, after a few days, was told in an email that the item had subsequently been reported to authorities as stolen.

As of Thursday night, the machine was still in Mr. Hursti’s home, waiting to be picked up.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

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