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Police exonerate former county commissioner 

MSP: Nolan cleared of ‘unfounded’ voter fraud complaint 

Posted

THURSDAY, May 2 — The Michigan State Police have declared allegations of voter fraud against former Ingham County Commissioner Deb Nolan “unfounded.” 

County Clerk Barb Byrum filed a report against Nolan last year alleging Nolan had moved to another home outside of her district in Meridian Township and failed to update her voter registration. The move could have constituted voter fraud and perhaps made Nolan ineligible to hold her elected office, Byrum contended. 

Authorities interviewed Byrum and multiple commissioners, according to records obtained this week by City Pulse. Byrum — who had suggested Nolan had lied about her address — has since declared the issue a “moot point.” 

Nolan left office at the end of the year. She was replaced by Commissioner Mark Polsdofer in January. 

Byrum first reported her “hunch” of wrongdoing last August. Commissioner Ryan Sebolt said he bumped into Nolan while he campaigned door to door in Lansing. She “admitted” to him that she lived in a home outside of her commission district, Sebolt later told Byrum. Byrum decided to hand over the information to law enforcement. 

Nolan, for her part, had claimed Byrum only sought to widen a rift between county officials with “mean-spirited, damaging mischief.” She previously denied the claim and insisted she maintained two residences — one just down the block from her former marital home in Meridian Township and in Lansing. 

Ingham County Commissioner Mark Grebner, who also serves as Nolan’s attorney, had repeatedly refused to allow authorities to interview Nolan on the matter, according to police reports. But he told investigators that as long as Nolan maintained some semblance of an address in Meridian Township, she was legally in the clear. 

The Michigan State Police agreed. A redacted report indicates authorities searched Nolan’s homes in mid-March and closed the pending criminal complaint later that afternoon. Grebner said the findings ultimately vindicate Nolan of any allegations of criminal wrongdoing. Nolan couldn’t be reached for additional comment this week. 

Byrum also noted that Nolan, after leaving office,  has since updated her voter registration to a home outside her former district — the exact address that Byrum had suspected Nolan had been illegally residing for months. 

The secretary of state mandates residents update their address when they move within a city or township. State law also requires the change. Failure to do so can result in a civil infraction or license suspension. But it’s unclear how those rules are enforced. State officials said it’s handled on a case-by-case basis depending on circumstance. 

Commissioners are also legally required to reside within the district which they are elected to represent. 

Nolan previously argued that voter fraud is “almost non-existent” and only represents a “phrase concocted by the radical alt-right.” Kathy Birchen, the owner of the home at Nolan’s former Meridian Township address, previously said she offered her the space because Nolan “needed to do something to finish out her term.” 

Grebner previously said that Byrum is “incompetent and wrong” for alleging voter fraud against his client.  

“Even if the Michigan State Police is not pursuing charges, it does not necessarily mean Ms. Nolan did not violate the law, the spirit of the law or is innocent,” Byrum said. “It could mean that the Michigan State Police determined that … a case could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt or there were not enough resources.” 

Grebner declined to comment further on the matter when reached by phone this week. 

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