Trump campaign files suit to halt ballot counting in Michigan

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 - 2:11pm

President Trump speaks to supporters in Macomb County on Nov. 1.

President Trump speaks to supporters in Macomb County on Nov. 1. Buy this photo
Becca Mahon/Daily

Donald Trump’s campaign has filed a lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims to stop the state from counting ballots in the presidential election, according to a Wednesday press release.

“As votes in Michigan continue to be counted, the presidential race in the state remains extremely tight as we always knew it would be,” Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, wrote in a statement. “President Trump’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.”

The campaign is also demanding to review ballots that were opened and counted while the campaign did not have access.

Trump’s campaign is also asking for a recount in Wisconsin, another crucial swing state where he is a close race with Joe Biden. As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, Biden has a 0.9% lead over Trump in Michigan and was declared the winner with a 0.7% lead over Trump in Wisconsin, according to the Associated Press.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a press conference Wednesday a clearer picture of Michigan’s election results should be available by Wednesday evening, with more than 100,000 ballots still needing to be counted as of 11:30 a.m. 

Benson said she has faith in Michigan’s ballot-counting process and noted that the state is focused on getting this right in a way that can withstand any court challenges.

“We’ve got clear protocols, secure protocols in place to tabulate those votes and to continue to report out that data as they become publishable,” Benson said Wednesday. “We stand by the process … We’re very familiar with the process and the legality of our process and have great confidence in it, and we’re ready to defend it.”

In a press conference earlier in the week on Monday, Benson said the process of counting ballots may take time to guarantee accuracy. 

“To ensure every ballot is counted accurately, that takes time,” Benson said. “In Michigan, our election workers count absentee ballots in pairs, one Republican and one Democrat, to ensure there’s no political bias and that every ballot is counted fairly. This takes time, it always has.”

Trump has also sought to cast doubt on other close races in battleground states. On Wednesday, he tweeted that “It looks like Michigan has now found the ballots necessary to keep a wonderful young man, John James, out of the U.S. Senate. What a terrible thing is happening!” 

In a tweet Wednesday, Regent Jordan Acker (D) wrote that the lawsuit is “utterly and completely false.” 

“I’ve been in that room in the TCF Center all morning with hundreds of Republican challengers,” Acker wrote. “Meritless.” 

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said in a statement Wednesday the MDP is committed to seeing every vote counted and believes the ballot-counting process is complete and transparent.

“Yesterday Michigan held an election with record turnout levels,” the statement read. “It takes a considerable amount of time and volunteer hours to count every single vote. … The voters have cast their ballots and they are being meticulously counted and when that process is over, all Michiganders together will find out the results.”

Daily News Editor Barbara Collins can be reached at bcolli@umich.edu


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