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Little Traverse Twp. clerk faces election-related charges

Dan Wanschura
(Photo: Dan Wanschura/IPR News)

A Little Traverse Township official is facing willful neglect of duty charges related to the 2022 election.

The Michigan Attorney General alleged that Sherry Ann Duntley, a clerk for Little Traverse Township attempted to influence voters’ decisions on three ballot proposals.

She was arraigned last month in the 90th District Court in Emmet County on one count of common law offenses, which is a felony, and one count of willful neglect of duty, which is a misdemeanor.

An arraignment is a formal reading of the charges. Duntley has not been convicted of a crime.

“The department of the Attorney General alleges that Duntley, while performing her duties as an election administrator, willfully disregarded her obligation to remain impartial by attempting to influence voters preferences on three ballot proposals in the 2022 election cycle,” said a statement from Kimberly Bush, a spokesperson for the state Attorney General’s office.

Bush said this was not a local investigation. The matter was brought to the attention of the Michigan Department of State by citizens of the township.

“Such behavior allegedly violated a lawful instruction from the Secretary of State, compelling election officials to refrain from expressing their personal opinions on issues that are concurrently up for vote on already-distributed ballots across the state,” the statement continues.

According to the township administrator, Duntley still holds the title of clerk as of April 26. Recent minutes also show Duntley as present in township meetings.

Duntley was appointed clerk and sworn in on Feb. 28, 2020, according to meeting minutes. She replaced former clerk Lynda Armon.

"My client enjoys the presumption of innocence and she looks forward to having her day in court on this,” said Mary Beth Kur, Duntley’s attorney. “She denies criminal wrongdoing."

Conviction of the felony charge can result in a $10,000 fine and/or five years in prison and the misdemeanor charge can result in a $1,000 fine and/or up to one year behind bars, according to the criminal complaint.

Duntley is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary exam at 2 p.m. on May 3.

IPR News reached out for comment from Little Traverse Township officials and Duntley’s attorney following her probable cause conference April 26 but have not received responses at the time of publication.

Michael Livingston covers the area around the Straits of Mackinac - including Cheboygan, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties as a Report for America corps member.