Trump campaign loses legal challenge over ballot counting

Posted at 9:16 PM, November 5, 2020 and last updated 10:51 PM, July 6, 2023

By ED WHITE Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) — A judge on Thursday dismissed a legal challenge by President Donald Trump’s campaign in a dispute over whether enough Republican observers were allowed to watch the handling of Michigan absentee ballots.

Judge Cynthia Stephens noted the lawsuit was filed Wednesday afternoon, just hours before the last ballots were counted.

President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“As of this point, the essence of the count is completed,” said Stephens, who added that the lawsuit also appeared to target the wrong official over local election issues.

The Associated Press called the Michigan race for Democrat Joe Biden on Wednesday evening.

The lawsuit claimed Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, was allowing absentee ballots to be processed without giving access to enough GOP challengers.

Benson denied the allegations. The lawsuit was filed while pro-Trump protesters had gathered at TCF Center in Detroit where ballots were being counted. There were Republican observers inside.

Assistant Attorney General Heather Meingast said work by local counting boards was over.

“The ship has really sailed,” she said.

President Donald Trump walks away after speaking at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump campaign attorney Mark “Thor” Hearne also sought access to surveillance video of absentee ballot drop boxes that were stationed around Michigan before the election. Video monitoring was required under state law.

The judge replied: “Almost as if it were a drug deal, follow the chain of custody. OK. I understand.”

In an interview, Benson defended the work of election officials.

“If anyone outside the TCF arena thought that they were going to successfully interfere with or stop the count in Detroit, then they don’t know Detroit,” she said Thursday.

More In: