Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson criticized President Donald Trump’s lawsuit to stop the counting of ballots at a press conference Wednesday evening, calling the legal action “frivolous” and urging residents to be wary of misinformation about the election following Joe Biden’s projected win in the state. 

“I think it’s time that we all come together and not allow frivolous lawsuits or any effort to misinform the public about the truth behind our elections to succeed,” Benson said. “And I will remain steadfastly determined in the days ahead to ensure we continue to correct false information and continue to tell the story, the extraordinary story, of our elections in Michigan this year.”

Trump’s lawsuit, filed in the Michigan Court of Claims Wednesday morning, said the president’s campaign “has not been provided with meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process, as guaranteed by Michigan law,” according to Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien. The lawsuit came shortly after the Trump campaign asked for a recount in Wisconsin, another swing state Biden narrowly won. 

Trump incorrectly declared in a tweet Wednesday that he had won Michigan, saying he “claimed” the state due to a “large number of secretly dumped ballots.” Shortly after, Twitter flagged the post as misinformation. 

At Wednesday’s press conference, Benson announced that the process of tabulating the ballots was mostly complete, a timeline that was much shorter than originally anticipated. On Monday, Benson said Michigan would most likely have results by Friday due to the record number of mail-in ballots received. However, earlier Wednesday, Benson said “a much clearer picture” of the state’s election results would emerge by the end of the day.

“Now we’re able to deliver unofficial results to the American public far, far sooner than we had estimated,” Benson said. “The overall process was smooth, efficient, secure and accurate.”

Benson cautioned Michigan residents against believing misinformation spread on social media platforms. Robocalls to Flint residents yesterday aimed to confuse voters about whether they could vote in person, prompting a statement from Benson urging people to vote if they had not already. 

She also classified demonstrations that aim to undermine the public’s faith in the outcome of the election as misinformation, pledging to protect Michigan’s democratic process at all costs. On Wednesday, Trump supporters protested outside of the tally room at the TCF Center in Detroit, calling on the poll workers to “stop the count.” According to the Detroit Free Press, police had to push back crowds who were demanding to be let into the vote counting area. 

In a tweet Wednesday, University of Michigan Regent Jordan Acker (D) criticized the Trump campaign’s lawsuit for spreading incorrect information.

“This is utterly and completely false, as they know,” Acker wrote. “I’ve been in that room in the TCF Center all morning with hundreds of Republican challengers. Meritless.”

Benson warned that the spread of misinformation might accelerate in the coming weeks and said the state would not accept attempts to undermine the election’s results. 

“Whether it’s doctored images, staged demonstrations, false tweets or frivolous lawsuits, the purpose is all the same: to reduce the public’s faith in our elections and our outcomes,” Benson said. “But those efforts will not succeed. In Michigan, the process worked. Our system is secure, accurate and anyone who tells you otherwise is attacking our democracy or unhappy with the results.”

Daily News Editor Liat Weinstein can be reached at weinsl@umich.edu

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