By Jon King /

The head of the Livingston County Republican Party has called on an elected Republican clerk recently charged for an election violation to resign.

Last week, it was learned that longtime Genoa Township Clerk Polly Skolarus had been charged with a single, misdemeanor count related to improper ballot containers that were reportedly used during the November 3rd election. On Saturday, Meghan Reckling, Chair of the Livingston County Republican, issued a statement saying that Livingston County residents “should have complete faith and confidence in how their elections are run” and that means “holding Republicans who administer elections to the same standards that we would hold Democrats.” Reckling said the charge filed by the Livingston County Prosecutor’s office has damaged the public’s trust, and called on Skolarus to resign her position as Clerk of Genoa Township.

At issue was the inability of the Livingston County Canvassing Board to re-tabulate ballots from Genoa’s Absentee Voter Counting Board (AVCB) 2 after the chain of custody was called into question as “some of the Ballots were sealed into an unapproved and uncertified ballot container.” No further details have been provided as to the details of the incident, although Livingston County Elections Coordinator Joe Bridgman says that the specific statute in this instance is MCL 168.24j, which deals generally with the use of ballot containers, but not those specific to Absentee Ballots. It was enacted in 2000 and remains in effect.

The charge carries a maximum punishment of 90 days in jail and/or $500 fine. Skolarus, who is set to be arraigned on the count May 7th, has so far not commented on the charge, other than telling Genoa Township Trustee Jean Ledford at last week’s meeting she didn’t “have all the facts” after Ledford made mention of the incident as part of her motion to deny a 2% pay raise to Skolarus. That motion passed 5-2.

This is not the first time Skolarus has run afoul of the head of the county’s GOP leader. In 2016 she faced off against then-Chair Dan Wholihan in the Republican primary, which became heated with accusations by Wholihan that Skolarus had improperly removed three people from the voting rolls, which adamantly denied. Skolarus went on to win the primary by a nearly two-to-one margin.

There have also been ongoing accusations that Skolarus is not a “real” Republican, due to past support on social media in 2014 for President Obama and and another comment in 2015 that “Christian Republicans just don’t care what happens to the poor.”

Meanwhile, Judy Daubenmier, Chair of the Livingston County Democrats told WHMI that she questions whether Skolarus was set up by “Republicans who don't like her but haven't been able to beat her at the ballot box,” claiming that members of the GOP “showed up with a video camera to record the canvassers meeting when the Genoa clerk appeared at the meeting to have the absentee ballot counting board's results re-tabulated.” She also pointed to what she called “an awfully close relationship between the county clerk who referred the case for prosecution and the party chair who called for Polly Skolarus' resignation.” Reckling is the daughter of County Clerk Elizabeth Hundley. Hundley previously told WHMI she prides herself on her working relationship with each of the city and township clerks in Livingston County, including Skolarus. However, one of her duties as the county’s chief election official is to report violations of Michigan’s election laws.

Following approval of the minutes from the November canvass, Hundley says she notified former Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt about the situation, whose office began an investigation. That culminated in the charge being filed March 9th by Prosecutor David Reader.

Daubenmier says the “impartial” court system should sort things to ensure that “this wasn't just a GOP setup of a fellow Republican they don't like.”

Requests for comment have been made to both Reckling and Hundley.