President Donald Trump’s campaign announced Wednesday it is filing a lawsuit to try to temporarily halt Michigan’s ongoing absentee ballot count.
In a statement, campaign manager Bill Stepien alleged the Trump campaign was denied “meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process” in Michigan.
It’s not immediately clear what type of access Stepien is referring to. A copy of the legal complaint was not immediately available.
Michigan law allows for the continual presence of both poll watchers and poll challengers in precincts, including absentee counting boards. The latter must be appointed by political parties or qualified interest groups and can stand or sit behind ballot processing tables.
The suit comes as election clerks and poll workers attempt to finish counting a record number of absentee ballots that were legally cast by Michigan voters in the run-up to Election Day. Early results from in-person voting favored Trump. But absentee ballots, which take longer to count, have favored Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who now leads Trump by 45,381 votes with 96 percent of the count complete.
Stepien said the Trump campaign is asking the Michigan Court of Claims to halt additional counting “until meaningful access has been granted,” and is demanding to review any ballots that were opened and counted when that “meaningful access” was allegedly denied.
Earlier Wednesday, without evidence, Trump tweeted that “they are finding Biden votes all over the place — in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. So bad for our country!”
They are finding Biden votes all over the place — in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. So bad for our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2020
Mark Brewer, a Democratic election attorney and former chair of the state Democratic Party, predicted a lawsuit would be unsuccessful. He was working as a poll challenger at Detroit’s absentee counter board at the TCF Center and told Bridge “this place here is crawling with Republican challengers.”
“They don’t know what they’re doing. They’re ill-trained. They’re ill-mannered. They’re obnoxious,” Brewer said.
Nonetheless, the Detroit count is “going fine,” said Brewer, who added “it’s the best Detroit process I’ve ever seen, far and away.”
The count has been done with “complete transparency and integrity,” he added. “Any lawsuit over this would be completely frivolous.”