Friday, September 30, 2022

Court of Claims officially denies Trump Campaign lawsuit

November 6, 2020
Signs outside of the Meridian township clerk's office instruct voters to wear a mask and socially distance on Nov. 2, 2020.
Signs outside of the Meridian township clerk's office instruct voters to wear a mask and socially distance on Nov. 2, 2020. —
Photo by Alyte Katilius | The State News

A lawsuit filed by President Donald Trump's campaign to halt vote counting in Michigan was officially denied Friday, according to a statement issued by Attorney General Dana Nessel.

The lawsuit, announced Wednesday, alleged Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson did not allow bipartisan teams to review absentee ballots in Michigan, a swing state. In response, Trump's campaign demanded to halt absentee vote counting and review ballots opened and counted when it reportedly did not have access.

The campaign also requested hours of surveillance footage of voting drop boxes.

Judge Cynthia Stephens announced a plan to deny the lawsuit Thursday. Stephens' opinion was issued Friday, after hearing arguments, in which the suit was ruled to unlikely succeed on its merits.

This year, 3.3 million people voted via absentee ballots in the recent election.

All Michigan elections have been accessible and transparent, the Attorney General's Office Press Secretary Ryan Jarvi said.

“The Trump campaign’s lawsuit demonstrates either a failed attempt by plaintiffs to cobble together a legitimate claim, or their clear lack of understanding of Michigan’s election laws," Jarvi said.

According to Stephens' opinion statement, plaintiff Eric Ostegren, an election challenger, was excluded from an absentee voter counting board. The opinion explained the campaign's complaint did not specify where, when or by whom Ostegren was excluded.

The opinion also explains the campaign's complaint was filed at 4 p.m. Wednesday, after several media outlets had announced Biden's win, and votes had largely been counted.

“Accordingly, and even assuming the requested relief were available against the Secretary of State — and overlooking the problems with the factual and evidentiary record noted above — the matter is now moot, as it is impossible to issue the requested relief,” Stephens said in the opinion.

Similarly, Third Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Kenny denied a petition that would require Detroit and Wayne County to retain all ballots and poll books. It would also require Wayne County to refrain from certifying election results.

Jarvi also commented on this ruling, which he said mirrored Stephens‘ denial of the Trump Campaign's suit, “Specifically, that, once again, the allegations are mere speculation. The swift, clear and decisive opinion should put to rest the meritless claims that have been made in Michigan.”

The Michigan House of Representatives plans to look at the state's voting and ballot counting process to ensure trust, according to House Oversight Chair Matt Hall.

Controversy and frustration have come about surrounding how votes in the presidential race were counted in Michigan and what makes up a legal or illegal vote, Hall said in a statement. In response, this process will be reevaluated to build voter trust.

“This has nothing to do with party or a particular candidate and everything to do with safeguarding the integrity of our elections,” Hall said in the statement.

Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield tweeted that the House will be meeting Saturday to ensure certainty and unity throughout election processes.

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