(The Center Square) – Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens on Thursday said she plans to deny relief in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday by President Donald Trump’s campaign over vote counting in the state.
“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,” Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a Wednesday statement.
Mark Hearne, a Trump attorney, argued poll challengers should be granted access to surveillance footage of absentee ballots being counted to provide transparency in the voting process.
For relief to be granted, Stephens said the court required evidence to prove why relief was needed.
Part of the lawsuit alleged some ballots were backdated to meet the 8 p.m. deadline.
Stephens called the part of the lawsuit that alleged impropriety in the voting process “hearsay.”
“I heard someone else say something – why isn’t that hearsay?” Stephens asked Hearne in the Zoom hearing.
Stephens also noted that by the time the lawsuit was filed around 4 p.m., there was no relief available because most of the ballots had already been counted.
Kevin Hamilton, a Democratic National Committee lawyer, said the lawsuit incorrectly targeted Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson because she doesn’t run the elections – election clerks run elections and count ballots.
Assistant Attorney General Heather Meingast also argued there was no relief that could be granted because most counting boards have already finished.
“The ship has really sailed on the requested relief they’re requesting,” Meingast said.
After less than an hour of oral arguments, Stephens said she will issue a written order by Friday afternoon stating the bases of the denial, but will likely conclude Benson provided direction to the polling location officials as to how to comply with Michigan laws and that the relief requested is largely unavailable.
The responsibility with day-to-day vote count “lies with local election officials, so the relief that is being requested, in a substantial part, is completely unavailable through the Secretary of State,” Stephens said.
“The court would finally find that as to the one issue for which relief is arguably available, that on this factual record, I have no basis to find that there’s a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, as it related to this defendant,” Stephens said.
“Nor am I convinced that there’s a clear legal duty on the part of anyone who is properly before this court to manage this issue.”
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Press Secretary Ryan Jarvi released the following statement:
“We are pleased with Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens’ swift action in today’s hearing on Trump v Benson to deny the relief requested by plaintiffs. She identified the same defects in the campaign’s filings as we did, namely a complete lack of any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of election officials, and meritless legal arguments. Michigan’s elections have been fair, transparent and reflect the will of the voters, and we will continue to defend against any challenges that claim otherwise.”
By Scott McClallen | The Center Square
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Reposted with permission