President Donald Trump’s campaign said it filed a lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims on Wednesday to stop the vote count in the state led by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden with nearly 40,000 votes.
As expected, Trump took the lead in Michigan early on – which turned red in 2016 – but when millions of postal ballots were counted, the race shifted in Biden’s favor. Now the Trump campaign claims it was not given “reasonable access” to oversee the opening and counting of ballots in the Midwest state.
“As Michigan’s votes continue to be counted, the presidential race in the state remains, as we always knew, extremely tight,” Bill Stepien, Trump 2020 campaign manager, said in a statement Wednesday.
“President Trump’s campaign has not been given meaningful access to numerous counting sites to observe the opening of the ballots and the counting process as guaranteed by law in Michigan,” Stepien said. “We filed suit today in the Michigan Court of Claims to stop the counting process until meaningful access is granted. We are also asking for review of the ballots that were opened and counted while we did not have meaningful access.
Ryan Jarvi, press secretary to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, said in a statement e-mailed to Washington Newsday that the count was “transparent”.
“The Michigan elections were conducted transparently, with access for both political parties and the public, and a robust system of checks and balances was put in place to ensure that all ballots were counted fairly and accurately. At this time, our department has not yet been notified by the Court of Claims of this suit, and when it is served on us, we will review it and respond accordingly. Michigan will continue to protect the right of all voters to have their ballots counted,” said Jarvi.
Washington Newsday asked the Biden and the Trump campaign for further comments, but they did not respond immediately.
CNBC reported that a representative to the Michigan Court of Claims said they had not yet received the complaint, although they were aware of the campaign’s explanation.
At the time of writing this article, Biden Trump was leading Michigan with a margin of about 0.7 percent. The Democratic candidate, who served as vice president under former President Barack Obama, received 2,638,279 votes, while Trump received 2,600,314 votes. According to the Associated Press, 99 percent of the districts have now reported.
On Wednesday, Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Michigan, told Wall Street Journal reporter Ken Thomas that she and the Biden campaign were optimistic that they would carry their state.
“They are confident and I am confident about Michigan,” Stabenow said. “I’m confident that Joe Biden will win Michigan.”
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said the vote went smoothly and she expected a clearer picture of the results later today, Wednesday. Benson assured that her state was concentrating on “counting every single ballot”.
Trump carried Michigan by a narrow margin of 0.2 percent in 2016 (less than 11,000 votes). His victory in Michigan came after Obama won the state in 2008 and 2012, as every Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 has done.