Michigan judge dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit over access to ballots


The latest:

  • Electoral college vote stands at 253 for Biden, 214 for Trump.
  • Election observer says no evidence for Trump’s fraud claims.
  • Michigan, Georgia judges dismiss Trump campaign lawsuits.
  • Get all the U.S. election results as they come in.
  • How the electoral college determines who wins the U.S. presidency.
  • What do you want to know about the U.S. election? Email us at Ask@cbc.ca.

A Michigan judge has dismissed a Trump campaign lawsuit in a dispute over whether Republican challengers had access to the handling of absentee ballots. The lawsuit claimed Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, was allowing absentee ballots to be counted without teams of bipartisan observers as well as challengers. 

Judge Cynthia Stephens said that the lawsuit was filed late Wednesday afternoon, just hours before the last ballots were counted. She also said the defendant was the wrong person to sue because she doesn’t control the logistics of local ballot counting, even if she is the state’s chief election officer.

Much of the dispute centred on the TCF Center in Detroit where pro-Trump protesters gathered while absentee ballots were being counted.

A judge in Georgia also dismissed a lawsuit over the vote in that state late Wednesday. It was unclear if any of the Trump campaign’s legal manoeuvring over balloting would succeed in shifting the race in his favour. Late Thursday afternoon, the campaign said it had launched yet another lawsuit, this time against the Philadelphia board of electors, seeking an injunction to bar ballot counting unless Republican observers are present. 

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden pushed closer to the 270 electoral college votes needed to carry the White House, securing victories in the “blue wall” battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Michigan and narrowing U.S. President Donald Trump’s path.

Biden’s victories in the Great Lakes states left him with 253 electoral votes, while Trump has 214.

Biden also holds narrow leads in Nevada and Arizona, while Trump was watching his slim advantage fade in must-win states Pennsylvania and Georgia as mail-in and absentee votes were being counted. The Associated Press and Fox News have called Arizona for Biden, but CBC News still considers it too close to call and is waiting to make the determination.

Biden called for calm Thursday afternoon as the final votes are counted.

“Democracy is sometimes messy,” he said from Wilmington, Del. “It sometimes requires a bit of patience, too.”

And he reiterated that he feels good about where things stand and is confident he will be the winner when the count is complete. 

As of Thursday afternoon, Arizona state officials said about 450,000 ballots remain to be counted, while an election official in Georgia said more than 47,000 votes are still to be counted.

“The effort here is to make sure that everybody’s legal vote is counted properly and that the actual results are reflective of the voters’ intent,” said Gabriel Sterling, a voting system manager in Atlanta. “These close elections require us to be diligent and make sure we do everything right.”

Trump clung to a narrow lead in North Carolina as well, another must-win for him. Trump had to win the states where he was still ahead and either Arizona or Nevada to triumph and avoid becoming the first incumbent U.S. president to lose a re-election bid since fellow Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Nevada official responds to Trump campaign allegations

In Las Vegas, Trump allies alleged, without evidence, that there had been voting irregularities in populous Clark County, which includes the city. Former Nevada attorney general Adam Laxalt, a Republican, said a lawsuit would be filed in federal court to ask the judge to “stop the counting of improper votes.”

On Thursday, Clark County, Nev., election official Joe Gloria told reporters, “We are unaware of any improper ballots that are being processed.” He said the counting is slow because there are far more mail-in ballots this year than in previous elections, and that the U.S. Postal Service will continue to deliver all ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3 through Nov. 10.

WATCH | Clark County official explains why counting is slower than usual:

Clark County, Nev., election official Joe Gloria explains why counting ballots in his county, which contains Las Vegas, is taking so long. 1:06

Bob Bauer, a senior adviser to Biden’s campaign, called the various Trump lawsuits “meritless” and designed to undermine the integrity of the electoral process.

In Georgia, a judge dismissed a different lawsuit by that state’s Republican Party and Trump’s campaign that asked him to ensure a coastal county was following state laws on processing absentee ballots.

Chatham County Superior Court Judge James Bass did not provide an explanation for his decision at the close of a roughly one-hour hearing. The county includes the heavily Democratic city of Savannah.

WATCH | Result of U.S. presidential election remains unknown:

The CBC’s Ellen Mauro has the latest from Washington on the race for the White House two days after the vote. 4:42

With millions of ballots yet to be tabulated, Biden already had received more than 71 million votes, the most in U.S. history. At an afternoon news conference Wednesday, the former vice-president said he expected to win the presidency but stopped short of outright declaring victory.

“I will govern as an American president,” Biden said. “There will be no red states and blue states when we win. Just the United States of America.”

WATCH | Biden says he won’t declare his victory, but the vote count will:

Democratic presidential candidate tells reporters the day after the election that every vote must be counted, after the Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Michigan to stop the count. 1:13

It was a stark contrast to the approach of Trump, who early Wednesday morning falsely claimed that he had won the election. Trump’s campaign engaged in a flurry of legal activity to try to improve the Republican president’s chances and cast doubt on the election results, requesting a recount in Wisconsin and filing lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia.

An appeals court in Pennsylvania on Thursday ordered that Trump campaign officials be allowed to more closely observe ballot processing in Philadelphia. Statewide recounts in Wisconsin, meanwhile, have historically changed the vote tally by only a few hundred votes; Biden led by more than 20,000 ballots out of nearly 3.3 million counted.

WATCH | ‘We did win this election,’ Trump tells supporters:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said as far as he’s concerned he and the Republican Party have won the U.S. election. He said he will go to the U.S. Supreme Court and wants voting to stop. However, several states are still counting votes that have already been cast. 1:12

Election observer says no evidence for Trump’s claims

The head of an international delegation monitoring the U.S. election said his team has no evidence to support Trump’s claims about alleged fraud involving mail-in absentee ballots.

Michael Georg Link, a German lawmaker who heads an observer mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), told German public broadcaster rbb Thursday that “on the election day itself, we couldn’t see any violations” at the U.S. polling places they visited.

WATCH | No obvious legal grounds to stop vote count, law professor says:

University of Memphis law professor Steve Mulroy says vote recounts are common in the U.S. but stopping a count in any state would be a significant legal hurdle for President Donald Trump. 6:35

Link said he was “very surprised” by Trump’s claims about postal ballot fraud because the United States has a long history of this method of voting going back to the 19th century. The Vienna-based OSCE, of which the U.S. is a member, conducts observer missions at major elections in all of its member countries.

“We looked into this. We found no violations of the rules whatsoever,” Link told rbb. He said neither U.S. election observers nor media found any evidence of fraud either, though the OSCE team on Wednesday repeated long-standing concerns about disenfranchisement of some voters and the distorting effects of campaign finance laws.

Trump spent much of Wednesday in the White House residence, huddling with advisers and fuming at media coverage showing his Democratic rival picking up battlegrounds. Trump used his Twitter feed to falsely claim victory in several key states and amplify unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about Democratic gains as absentee and early votes were tabulated.

He weighed in again on Twitter on Thursday, writing: “Stop the count!” Twitter later flagged a different Trump tweet as disputed and possibly misleading; Trump tweeted that “any vote that came in after election day will not be counted.”

Several states allow mailed-in votes to be accepted after election day as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday. That includes Pennsylvania, where ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 can be accepted if they arrive up to three days later.

WATCH | Trump will not concede, U.S. politics professor maintains:

Scott Lucas, American politics professor at the University of Birmingham, believes no matter what happens next in the U.S. presidential election, President Donald Trump will not concede and that will bring considerable risk to the country.   1:21

CBC News confirmed with the office of Michigan’s secretary of state that ballot counting has concluded in the state. CBC News has called Michigan for Biden. Official results from the state are still pending.

At the same time, hundreds of thousands of votes were still to be counted in Pennsylvania, and Trump’s campaign said it was moving to intervene in existing Supreme Court litigation over counting mail-in ballots there. The campaign also argued that outstanding votes still could flip the outcome in Arizona, showcasing an inconsistency in its arguments over prolonged tabulation.

Trump prematurely claims victory

Trump, in an extraordinary move from the White House, issued premature claims of victory and said he would take the election to the Supreme Court to stop the counting.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell discounted the president’s quick claim of victory, saying it would take a while for states to conduct their vote counts. The Kentucky Republican said that “claiming you’ve won the election is different from finishing the counting.”

Vote tabulations routinely continue beyond election day, and states largely set the rules for when the count has to end. In presidential elections, a key point is the date in December when presidential electors meet. That’s set by federal law.

WATCH | Protests crop up in cities across U.S.:

More than two dozen people at a Detroit ballot counting site tried to stop vote counting the day after the U.S. election, while hundreds of New Yorkers marched to demand that all votes be counted. 1:12

Dozens of Trump supporters chanting “Stop the count!” descended on a ballot-tallying centre in Detroit, while about 200 Trump supporters, some armed with rifles and handguns, gathered outside an election office in Phoenix, Ariz., following unsubstantiated rumours that votes were not being counted.


What do you want to know about the U.S. election? Email us at Ask@cbc.ca.



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