Judges Dismiss Trump Campaign Claims in Georgia, Michigan

WASHINGTON (AP) -
Signs sit on the ground calling for every vote to be counted in Detroit, Mich., Nov. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Judges in Georgia and Michigan quickly dismissed Trump campaign lawsuits Thursday, undercutting a campaign legal strategy to attack the integrity of the voting process in states where the result could mean President Donald Trump’s defeat.

The rulings came as Democrat Joe Biden inched closer to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House.

In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, the Trump campaign won an appellate ruling to get party and campaign observers closer to election workers who are processing mail-in ballots in Philadelphia.

But the order did not affect the counting of ballots that is proceeding in Pennsylvania.

Biden campaign attorney Bob Bauer called the Republican legal challenges meritless.

“I want to emphasize that for their purposes these lawsuits don’t have to have merit. That’s not the purpose. … It is to create an opportunity for them to message falsely about what’s taking place in the electoral process,” Bauer said Thursday, accusing the Trump campaign of “continually alleging irregularities, failures of the system and fraud without any basis.”

Biden said Wednesday the count should continue in all states, adding, “No one’s going to take our democracy away from us — not now, not ever.”

Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller said additional legal action was expected and would be focused on giving campaign officials access to where ballots were being counted.

“We will literally be going through every single ballot,” he said of the count in hotly contested Nevada.

Trump’s campaign has also announced that it will ask for a recount in Wisconsin.

The Associated Press called Wisconsin and Michigan for Biden on Wednesday. The AP has not called Georgia, Nevada or Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania and Michigan complaints largely involved access for campaign observers in locations where ballots are being processed and counted.

The Georgia case dealt with concerns about 53 absentee ballots in Chatham County. It was dismissed by a judge after elections officials in the Savannah-area county testified that all of those ballots had been received on time. Campaign officials said earlier they were considering similar challenges in a dozen other counties around the state.

Vote counting, meanwhile, stretched into Thursday. In every election, results reported on election night are unofficial and ballot counting extends past Election Day. This year, states were contending with an avalanche of mail ballots driven by fears of voting in person during a pandemic.

Mail ballots normally take more time to verify and count. And results were expected to take longer this year because there are so many mail ballots and a close race.

The lawsuits the Trump campaign filed in Michigan and Pennsylvania on Wednesday called for a temporary halt in the counting until it is given “meaningful” access in numerous locations and allowed to review ballots that already have been opened and processed.

The AP’s Michigan call for Biden came after the suit was filed. The president is ahead in Pennsylvania, but his margin is shrinking as more mailed ballots are counted. The state had 3.1 million mail ballots, and a court order allows ballots received in the mail to be counted until Friday if they were postmarked by Nov. 3.

The Michigan 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. Michigan Democrats said the suit was a longshot. Poll watchers from both sides were plentiful Wednesday at one major polling place in question, the TCF Center in Detroit, the AP observed.