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Michigan Judge Rejects GOP Attempt to Halt Ballot Counting in Detroit, Cites ‘No Evidence’ of Wrongdoing


A Michigan judge sided with the city of Detroit in a lawsuit that aimed to prevent the state’s largest county from certifying its election results, marking another setback in ongoing Republican efforts to halt ballot counts in states where President Donald Trump is trailing former vice president Joe Biden. The ruling followed a hearing at 8:30 a.m. this morning before Judge Timothy Kenny, who scheduled a status conference for February 2021.

The lawsuit—filed by conservative group the Election Integrity Fund (EIF) in the Third Judicial Circuit of Wayne County—alleged that Detroit’s City Election was allowing individual election inspectors to fix or “cure” deficient absentee ballots despite a state law mandating that the curing process always be overseen by at least two people, one from each political party. The group asked the court to grant an injunction blocking the city from certifying its ballot totals until an independent inspection is completed to ensure a fair and accurate tally.

Judge Kenny rejected the request to delay certification, reasoning that the plaintiffs failed to present any evidence to support claims that proper oversight procedures were not followed in the ballot curing process.

“What we have are claims about votes that maybe or have been submitted that are or may not be legitimate. This court finds that while there are assertions made by the plaintiffs that there is no evidence in support of those assertions,” Kenny said, per CBS News journalist Adam Brewster.

EIF’s attorney Ian Northon did not respond to requests for comment on the ruling.

David Fink, the attorney who represented the city of Detroit, argued that disturbing the ballot boxes at this stage in the process presented an enormous threat to the integrity of the votes, local news outlet WWJ News Radio reported.

“The risk of unsealing these ballots, and possibly corrupting the system — and I don’t mean that there’s anything corrupt going on, but corrupting the evidence — the danger of interfering with this evidence far outweighs any potential benefit to o the plaintiffs,” Fink said. “What they’re asking us to do of course is illegal, and we’ve explained that. We’re not allowed to go into those boxes.”

Judge Kenny said the plaintiffs could file for a recount and didn’t preclude additional challenges to the board’s conduct going forward, but such challenges would require more than mere accusations. Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey’s office did not respond to an email requesting comment by press time.

“In this case, this court does find that the irreparable harm that is alleged is speculative,” Kenny said. “It is speculation that hundreds or thousands of ballots have in fact been improperly processed.”

Ryan Jarvi, the press secretary for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D), issued a statement Thursday defending the state’s election procedures against a flood of attacks from President Trump and his supporters.

“Michigan’s elections have been conducted transparently, with access provided for both political parties and the public, and using a robust system of checks and balances to ensure that all ballots are counted fairly and accurately,” the statement read. “At this time our department has not been notified by the Court of Claims about this lawsuit and when we are served, we will review it and respond accordingly. Michigan will always continue to protect the rights of all voters to have their ballots counted.”

Two state judges threw out Trump campaign lawsuits on Thursday. One of those suits was in Michigan, while the other was in Georgia. Both lawsuits lacked evidence.

[image via WDIV4 screengrab]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.