Technician in Cross Village voting machine case said he did not suspect false pretenses

The Cross which stands in the middle of Cross Village Township is shown here.
The Cross which stands in the middle of Cross Village Township is shown here.

CROSS VILLAGE — A local computer technician says he had no prior connection to Tera Jackson when she asked him — without authorization — to meet with a Cross Village Township official last year and retrieve data from a voting tabulator.

Allan Coveyou, 52 from Harbor Springs, said he deals with township governments on a regular basis through his business, Coveyou Computer Services. And, though he had never been asked to handle election data before, he said it was not out of the ordinary for him to receive a request for services from someone he didn’t know.

“Well, you know, hindsight is always 2020,” he said in a recent interview. “But to get a call out of the blue, I deal with a lot of businesses and a lot of people that I don't know.”

Jackson, 56 from Petoskey, is now facing charges of common law fraud and two counts of aiding and abetting the unauthorized access of a computer for her involvement in the incident, which took place in mid-January last year. When Coveyou arrived at the Cross Village Township hall with township officials, it looked like someone had already tried to break in, he said.

The incident led the sheriff’s department down a trail of evidence which suggests Jackson had sent Coveyou to “clone” the machine under the false belief that it was scheduled to have its data wiped in the near future.

Jackson was previously scheduled for a preliminary hearing at the 90th District Court Wednesday, but that court appearance has been rescheduled, a representative from the court said. A new date has not yet been identified.

According to the affidavit for Jackson’s case, Coveyou was the main person whom law enforcement officials spoke to when they arrived at the scene, and he said he didn’t realize he was there under false pretenses. Coveyou has not been charged with any crime in connection to the incident.

The affidavit said Jackson believed there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, and that she had been tasked with the assignment of retrieving the information stored on Cross Village Township’s machine. The sheriff’s department investigation determined that not to be the case, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit does not specifically state that Jackson had been the person who attempted to access the machine prior to sending Coveyou there.

But Coveyou said he had no reason to be suspicious of Jackson’s request until after the dust had settled — particularly because he said other township officials, including Trustee Howard Wood, whom he believed to be the supervisor, were expected to be there.

“I deal with township halls in my business, so the township supervisor is basically the head of the township hall,” he said. “If it was somebody who wasn't a part of the township at all, then it would absolutely be a flag.”

Also among the group was Diane Keller, township clerk, who said in previous reports that she was there at the request of Wood, but didn’t know the reason for the meeting beforehand.

Coveyou said he also asked a friend, identified in law enforcement records as Michael Starkey, to join him. Starkey is a former law enforcement officer, and was carrying a gun and wearing a bulletproof vest when he met Coveyou and Wood at the township hall, according to multiple reports. He also recorded the incident on his phone.

Coveyou was not carrying a weapon or wearing a vest, he clarified in an interview.

“Because we're dealing with election stuff, I didn't want to go in there by myself without having, you know, a cop or former cop with me and videotape and the whole thing,” he said. “When you've lived long enough, you kind of realize that you need to always protect yourself.”

In the end, Coveyou was not able to access the machine, owing to the fact that it required a special size of flash drive.

Multiple conspiracy theories and inaccuracies spread following the 2020 presidential election, particularly online, and former President Donald Trump has continued to cast doubt on the validity of the results. His opponent, Joe Biden, won with 306 Electoral College votes to Donald Trump's 232 electoral votes. In the national popular vote, Biden received 81.2 million votes and Trump received 74.2 million votes.

Coveyou did not specify whether he believed there was fraud in the election, but said he's “for the truth and justice no matter what party we're talking about."

This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Technician in Cross Village voting machine case said he did not suspect false pretenses