Clerks scrambling to fulfill FOIA request for 2016 election ballots

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GRAND BLANC TWP. (WJRT) (9/6/2018) - "No. I have never seen or heard anything like this, at all," Grand Blanc Township Clerk Cathy Lane said.

A two-page letter arrived her desk on August 20th, asking for every ballot cast in the November 2016 Presidential election, including absentee ballots and ballots that couldn't be counted.

It's signed 'Emily'.

"Every clerk that got that letter is going oh my gosh oh my gosh what do they want? What are they trying to do?" Lane explained.

The copies are to be sent to an address in Astoria, New York to the United Impact Group, LLC. The left-leaning SuperPAC Priorities USA Foundation confirms they're behind it.

In a statement, the foundation said they "recently began an in-depth research effort to determine whether any discrepancies exist in the ballot process across various states and precincts that might disproportionately affect certain communities, particularly communities of color and young people."

"For us simply having to count 21,000 ballots is going to be utilizing a lot of ink cartridges and paper and time," Lane said.

Lane made it clear she'll get it done, but explained there are a few challenges:
- Only she and her deputy clerk can touch the ballots,
- They cannot copy the ballots true to size, so a representative from the group may have to fly in to get the info they need,
- If they can change the size, they're estimating it'll take more than 80 hours to complete the work, which is expected to cost about $16,000,
- And, they won't be able to take care of the request during normal business hours.

"We can't stop to just do one FOIA request. We have an election and we have voters and candidate who want an open, honest election and that's what we want. So that's where our first priority is going to be and we'll fit this in as quickly as we can," Lane said.

She added the regularly cast ballots do not have any personal information on them, but the absentee ballots do. She plans to redact at least the signatures, potentially the names and addresses too.

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