Campaign

Judge rejects Trump lawsuit seeking to halt Michigan vote count

A state judge on Thursday dismissed the Trump campaign's lawsuit seeking to halt the counting of absentee ballots in Michigan.

Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens said during a hearing she would be rejecting the campaign's lawsuit, filed the previous day, that alleged Republican officials had been denied access to video of ballot drop boxes.

Stephens said she aims to issue a written decision on Friday afternoon.

The Associated Press and several networks have declared Democratic nominee Joe Biden the winner in Michigan.

The judge said the lawsuit, filed against Michigan's secretary of state, was insufficient in part because that office is not involved with the local counting process at the heart of the Trump campaign's complaint.

She also said there would be little recourse available for the campaign at this stage because the vote-counting process was nearly complete.

"In this instance, where the issue is the day-to-day conduct of the vote count, the individuals who bear the responsibility absent the secretary of state - removing them from their responsibility because of misfeasance or malfeasance lies with the local election officials," Stephens said. "So the relief that is being requested in substantial part is completely unavailable through the secretary of state."

"Additionally, even if this relief were available, as opposed to when this suit was announced yesterday morning and the count was beginning, it was filed at 4 o'clock, at which point the count had largely proceeded, I am told," the judge continued.

Stephens added she was not persuaded by the Trump campaign's argument that their lawsuit merited a halting of the vote count and unconvinced that there's "a clear legal duty on the part of anyone who is properly before this court to manage this issue."

The campaign has also filed similar suits in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where Biden is closing the gap with Trump in ongoing counts in narrow races. A judge in Georgia on Thursday dismissed the campaign's lawsuit while Philadelphia elections officials are appealing a ruling that would allow the campaign to more closely monitor the counting process.

Ryan Jarvi, a spokesman for the Michigan attorney general, hailed Stephens' decision.

"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," Jarvi said in a statement. "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."

Updated at 2:37 p.m.

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