Trump sues to stop Michigan ballot count

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about early results from the 2020 U.S. presidential election in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 4, 2020.

Carlos Barria | Reuters

President Donald Trump’s campaign said Wednesday that it had filed suits to halt the counting of ballots in Michigan and Pennsylvania, as the campaign demanded increased access to observe the tallying process at numerous locations in those battleground states.

The Trump campaign also said that its in Michigan lawsuit demands that the campaign be allowed to “review those ballots” in Michigan “which were opened and counted while we did not have meaningful access.”

In Pennsylvania, the campaign said it is moving to intervene in an existing Supreme Court case related to that state’s extension of its mail-in ballot receipt deadline.

Separately, the campaign is filing two legal actions: one aimed at stopping what the campaign called the “hiding” by Democratic officials of “ballot counting and processing from our Republican poll observers,” the other which seeks to undo an order extending the deadline for absentee and mail-in voters to provide missing proof of identification.

The announcements comes as the Republican incumbent faces an ultra-tight race against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and in two other battlegrounds, Georgia and Nevada.

A woman who answered the phone at the clerk’s office at the Michigan Court of Claims said she was aware of the Trump campaign statement, but also said the office had not yet received the lawsuit.

At the time the suit was announced, NBC News was reporting that Biden was leading Trump by 49.5% of the votes cast in Michigan, compared to 48.8% percent for Trump, a margin of fewer than 38,000 votes.

A total of 94% of the ballots in the state had been counted so far.

The suit was announced as Trump suggested, without any evidence, that Michigan had “found” ballots to deny a victory to John James, the Republican nominee for the Senate race in Michigan.

“As votes in Michigan continue to be counted, the presidential race in the state remains extremely tight as we always knew it would be,” said Bill Stepien, Trump 2020 campaign manager.

“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,” Stepien said.

“We have filed suit today in the Michigan Court of Claims to halt counting until meaningful access has been granted. We also demand to review those ballots which were opened and counted while we did not have meaningful access,” Stepien said.

“President Trump is committed to ensuring that all legal votes are counted in Michigan and everywhere else.”

A spokeman for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in response, “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.”

” 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,” said the spokesman, Ryan Jarvi. “Michigan will always continue to protect the rights of all voters to have their ballots counted.”

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson earlier Wednesday said the state will finish counting ballots by Thursday morning.

Benson said Michigan is focused “on counting every single ballot.”

– Additional reporting by Kevin Breuninger

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