Kristina Karamo
Secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo wanted to reject all absentee ballots cast in Detroit, claiming the city’s methods for counting them are problematic. A judge rejected the effort on Monday. (Bridge photo by Lauren Gibbons)

A judge on Monday emphatically rejected Republican secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo’s lawsuit that sought to reject all absentee ballots cast in Detroit.

This story also appeared in Bridge Michigan

Wayne County Chief Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny dismissed the Republican’s suit, writing that her attorneys “failed dramatically” to prove any potential for wrongdoing and didn’t provide “any shred of evidence.”

In his ruling, Kenny said the 12 alleged election law violations cited by Karamo seeking to invalidate absentee ballots were “unsubstantiated and/or misinterpret Michigan election law.”

“These claims are unjustified, devoid of any evidentiary basis and cannot be allowed to stand,” Kenny wrote.

The judge criticized the lawsuit for focusing only on Detroit. He noted that city voters have already returned 60,000 absentee ballots and an injunction would “disenfranchise tens of thousands of eligible voters.”

“The idea that the Court would single out one community in the state to be treated adversely when Plaintiffs have provided no evidence in support of their allegation simply cannot occur,” he wrote.

He added, “such harm to the citizens of the city of Detroit, and by extension the citizens of the state of Michigan, is not only unprecedented, it is intolerable.”

Karamo’s lawsuit claimed Detroit’s absentee ballot counting system is so flawed that city voters should be required to vote in person or absentee ballots in person, alleging issues with ballot drop boxes and signature verification.

The Michigan Constitution allows voters the right to cast absentee ballots for any reason in person or by mail.

Republicans in two other swing states — Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — have filed similar lawsuits claiming problems with mail-in ballots. 

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat who faces Karamo in Tuesday’s election, has called recent lawsuits questioning the electoral process attempts to “scare” voters and deter them from casting ballots.

Karamo’s attorneys had earlier withdrawn a motion seeking to disqualify all Wayne County circuit court judges from considering the case.

The lawsuit had sought to prevent the city from using its absentee counting board at the Huntington Place (formerly the TCF Center) and instead count all absentee ballots in traditional precincts alongside in-person votes.

Karamo rose to prominence among GOP circles for alleging fraud occurred in the 2020 presidential election. She had been at the Huntington Place as election workers counted the results.

Over two days of hearings last week, Karamo attorney Daniel Hartman grilled Chris Thomas, a former long-time state elections director now working with the city of Detroit, and Daniel Baxter, a long-time Detroit election official.

Kenny said the answers from the two men “clarified” the state’s complicated election laws regarding absentee ballots and signatures. Karamo’s attorneys, Kenny wrote, failed to show there were any problems.

The lawsuit had challenged how Detroit verifies signatures, monitors drop boxes and rejects ballots, among other issues. 

Kenny rejected all challenges and said the city was following state voting regulations.

“Plaintiffs have raised a false flag of election law violations and corruption concerning Detroit’s procedures for the November 8th election,” Kenny concluded. “This Court’s ruling takes down that flag.”

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