DETROIT – Hoping to halt a statewide certification of Michigan election results, the latest lawsuit by President Donald Trump’s campaign submitted hundreds of claims asserting GOP poll watchers were excluded from counting rooms or saw illegal activity in the count in the state.
The Trump campaign is suing Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson along with the Wayne County and the Michigan Board of Canvassers, which are in charge of reviewing elections. While the case is filed in the state’s Western District, which does not encompass Wayne County, the campaign is more likely to find a sympathetic judge there as opposed to the Eastern District.
Inside the lawsuit are 234 pages of affidavits from people claiming to have been Republican poll watchers who witnessed or were told about misconduct by mostly Detroit ballot counters. Among the handwritten pages are claims that the watchers were unable to see ballots and match signatures.
Those who submitted affidavits questioned ballot transportation and most often were either not allowed to enter or saw others not allowed to enter. Though these individuals have claimed they were not allowed to enter ballot-counting rooms, as it has been repeatedly explained, it was discovered that the number of poll watchers from both parties had already exceeded the legal limit allowed in the room at one time. That is why those individuals were not allowed entry.
Many hoping to be poll watchers turned protestors showed up, some attempting to take pictures while chanting and banging on glass windows. Election officials were forced to put up cardboard to prevent the count from being seen by those not approved.
Several affidavits also commented on the atmosphere inside the TCF Center during the ballot-counting process, with individuals claiming they were harassed, yelled at or called profane names. Many alleged there were cheers when GOP challengers were escorted from the counting room by police on several occasions. Others also said they thought the counting of hundreds of thousands of ballots seemed overly hectic.
One affiant said, “At the time military ballots arrived, it seemed quite chaotic at this point and people were everywhere.”
Another said announcements made by election officials over the PA system were “very distracting to those of us trying to concentrate.”
Tuesday night, Fox News GOP chair and Michigan native Ronna McDaniel said those claims, brought without other supporting evidence, were signs of widespread voter fraud.
Multiple studies have shown voter fraud is extremely rare and has never been proven to be widespread.
Also in the lawsuit as an exhibit is a letter dated Oct. 28 asking for members of the Trump campaign to be part of the TCF Center’s accuracy test held Oct. 29 -- a test meant to ensure machines are properly calibrated. It’s unclear based on the exhibits if the campaign members attended the test on Oct. 29. A call to confirm with the City of Detroit clerk’s office was not returned.
Two other ongoing lawsuits in Michigan were also submitted as exhibits of evidence: one in Wayne County, where a ruling is expected Friday, and another that is being appealed in the state Court of Claims after being dismissed last week.
“We’ve seen this in other states as well, trying to promote the idea that this election wasn’t transparent, that things happened behind closed doors -- and that’s simply not what the facts illustrate,” Benson said about the allegations.
Both the Trump and Joe Biden campaigns have started asking Michigan voters specifically to help fund these upcoming legal battles.
Democrats have already asked to be part of the Court of Claims appeal, opposing the Trump campaign. Along with those funds, John James, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate who lost his bid this year, has started his own legal fund in conjunction with the Republican National Committee for that race against Sen. Gary Peters, potentially setting up even more challenges to come.