A Michigan circuit judge on Friday refused to block the certification of the Detroit area’s election results after a conservative legal nonprofit filed a lawsuit alleging massive voter fraud in the heavily Democratic city.
In his ruling, Wayne County circuit judge Timothy Kenny called the allegations made in the conservative Great Lake Justice Center’s lawsuit “incorrect and not credible.”
The election challengers named in the suit “paint a picture of sinister fraudulent activities both openly in the TCF Center and under the cloak of darkness.” But, he wrote, the allegations were “decidedly contradicted” by a former state elections director.
David Kallman, the lawyer for the Great Lake Justice Center who filed the lawsuit, said he disagrees with Kenny’s ruling and plans to file an emergency appeal. Michigan’s deadline for counties to certify election results is November 17. Democrat Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in the state by more than 146,000 votes, according to unofficial election tallies.
Kallman said it wasn’t true that Christopher Thomas, Michigan’s former elections director, directly contradicted his witnesses. Kallman said the judge essentially said his witnesses – including former Michigan secretary of state Ruth Johnson – weren’t credible, which he disputes. He said the judge is free to decide which side’s witnesses he believes.
“But for him to take it to the next step and say, essentially, our witnesses are liars, I didn’t appreciate that,” Kallman said.
The Great Lake Justice Center made a series of allegations in its lawsuit, among them:
- Election officials at the TCF Center in downtown Detroit processed and counted ballots from voters whose names were not in the “Qualified Voter File,” and instead assigned the votes to qualified voters who hadn’t cast ballots in the election
- Election workers were instructed not to verify absentee-ballot signatures, and to process late-arriving ballots, and to pre-date them
- At about 4 a.m. the morning after the election, tens of thousands of ballots were brought to the TCF Center by vehicles with out-of-state license plates, and that “all of these new ballots were cast for Joe Biden”
The conservative nonprofit included as evidence affidavits from five Republican poll-watchers and a city worker assigned to work on the election.
Lawyers representing Wayne County and local election officials denied the allegations, calling the lawsuit “one more in a series of ill-conceived cases filed in an attempt to overturn the results of the presidential election.”
According to their response to the lawsuit, the election workers counting ballots didn’t have the credentials to access the county’s “Qualified Voter File,” and no random names were assigned to ballots; signature verification for absentee ballots was conducted ahead of the vote counting by city clerk staff, and the dates used were time-stamped on the envelopes by staff who received ballots at satellite offices; and no ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day were brought to the TCF Center.
In his ruling, Kenny wrote that “it would be an unprecedented exercise of judicial activism for this court to stop the certification process.” And he wrote that the court can’t defy a legislatively crafted process by appointing an independent auditor, a process that “would involve untold delay.”
David Fink, a Democratic lawyer representing the local election officials, said in an email that the court record shows the Detroit city clerk ran a fair and proper election. The claims of voting problems in the city are “completely fabricated” by Trump supporters.
“The bottom line is the election was not close—Joe Biden carried the State of Michigan by more than 145,000 votes. It’s time for the sour grapes to end,” Fink wrote.
In an interview with National Review, Andrew Sitto, one of the Republican poll-watchers whose allegations of fraud served as the basis of the lawsuit, stood by his claims.
Sitto said he witnessed elections workers mishandling ballots and stealing votes during the process of duplicating ballots that arrived damaged and couldn’t be counted as-is.
He said he attempted to challenge several ballots, but the elections workers ignored him.
“None of the employees throughout the entire night ever followed the challenging procedure. So all of those ballots were ran in as normal, whether they were challenged or not,” Sitto said. “Our whole point to be there was to challenge bad ballots.”
Sitto was the poll-watcher who, in his affidavit, claimed that thousands of ballots arrived around 4 a.m.at the back of the TCF Center in vans with out-of-state license plates.
“Employees walked in with boxes. About two minutes later, they start filing up the tables again with a whole ’nother round of boxes of ballots, and the floor manager comes on the stage … and says this is what Democracy is supposed to look like,” he said. “Everyone started cheering on.”
By then, most of the poll-watchers were tired and heading home for the night, he said.
“I was one of the lone warriors who stayed,” Sitto said. “I said, ‘There is no way in hell I’m leaving. I can tell this entire thing is going wrong, is going in the wrong way.’”
Sitto said he couldn’t prove that the ballots that arrived early in the morning were fraudulent, but the ballots he witnessed were all votes for Democrat Joe Biden.
In his ruling, Kenny noted that all of the ballots arrived at the back of the TCF Center and that the city utilized rental vehicles to deliver them, hence the out-of-state plates.
“Mr. Sitto’s affidavit, while stating few general facts, is rife with speculation and guess-work about sinister motives,” Kenny wrote, adding, “There is no evidentiary basis to attribute any evil activity by virtue of the city using a rental truck with out-of-state license plates.”
Read the opinion here: Costantino et al v Detroit et al Opinion and Order 11.13.20.