Michigan Judge Denies Request for Wayne County Election Audit

Michigan Judge Denies Request for Wayne County Election Audit
Workers with the Detroit Department of Elections sort through absentee ballots at the Central Counting Board in the TCF Center in Detroit, Mich., on Nov. 2, 2020. (Elaine Cromie/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

A Michigan court on Tuesday denied a lawsuit that sought an audit of Wayne County’s election results by county clerks, noting that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced an audit last month.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny said the request was “premature.” If Benson’s office does not carry out an election audit, Kenny said (pdf) the plaintiffs “could file a mandamus petition with the Michigan Court of Claims,” recognizing their “constitutional right to an audit.”

In 2018, voters in the state approved a Michigan constitutional amendment that allows for a statewide audit of the election results. Kenny said the law doesn’t provide county clerks the authority to carry out an audit separate from the secretary of state’s office.

“This court finds no legal authority that permits the Wayne County Clerk to conduct an audit of Wayne County election results or that separates the audit from the oversight of the secretary of state,” Kenny wrote.

The Epoch Times reached out to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office about the progress of the audit. Benson announced a “risk-limiting audit” on Nov. 23.

The lawsuit, filed by two residents in Wayne County, which includes the Democratic stronghold Detroit, alleged that officials in Wayne County oversaw a fraudulent election.

The plaintiffs in the suit were poll challengers, represented by the Great Lakes Justice Center, who alleged restrictions on poll observers in Wayne County. They also noted late-arriving mail-in ballots and said workers from Wayne County’s clerk’s office encouraged early voters to vote for presidential candidate Joe Biden and other Democrats.

Officials in Detroit have denied the claims from the poll challengers, according to the Detroit News.

“There’s nothing new here,” Detroit lawyer David Fink argued, saying Kenny should reject their latest lawsuit. “This is just a warmed over argument repeated again now to have another bite at the apple. But it’s not a bite at the judicial apple. It’s a bite at the apple of public confidence.”

But their lawyer, David Kallman, said the plaintiffs have the right to call for an audit based on the 2018 constitutional amendment.

“What we’re asking for is what’s clear under this statute, is that the county clerk perform the audit under the direction and supervision of the secretary of state,” Kallman said, per the Detroit News.

Poll workers board up windows so ballot challengers can't see into the ballot counting area at the TCF Center where ballots are being counted in downtown Detroit, Mich., on Nov. 4, 2020. (Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images)
Poll workers board up windows so ballot challengers can't see into the ballot counting area at the TCF Center where ballots are being counted in downtown Detroit, Mich., on Nov. 4, 2020. (Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images)
In Michigan last week, President Donald Trump’s legal team brought up witnesses in front of a legislative hearing who alleged there was a pattern of corruption, intimidation, and threats at Detroit’s TCF Center on Election Day, alleging that election officials treated Republican and Democratic poll challengers differently.

A GOP poll observer at Detroit’s TCF center, Hima Kolanagireddy, told lawmakers that during her interactions with Democratic poll observers and election workers on Election Day, she faced intimidation when she wore a tag indicating she was with the GOP. When she wore a tag saying she was independent, she was treated differently.

“From my skin color everyone assumes that I’m a Democrat, so they just kind of come to me and one of the ladies was saying let’s get these m-f’s out. And I’m like m-fs who? … When I pulled out my tag, she looked at me and said you’re on the wrong side,” Kolanagireddy said.

Kolanagireddy alleged that Democrats, ACLU lawyers, and Detroit poll workers only challenged claims made by Republican observers—not Democratic ones.

A spokesperson for Michigan’s Secretary of State’s office, in a statement to The Epoch Times last week, responded to the allegations in the Michigan hearing.

“No actual evidence of any wrongdoing or fraud was presented, despite repeated questions requesting such evidence from lawmakers,” the spokesperson said on Dec. 2 following the event. “Instead we saw a regurgitation of vague accusations based on lack of knowledge of election procedure and widely debunked conspiracy theories. We hope the state Senate will allow future testimony illustrating the facts underlying this election.”

Case: Costantino v. Detroit
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: https://twitter.com/jackphillips5
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