The Trump campaign is contesting the results of Michigan’s preliminary vote count in the wake of controversial developments in several of the state’s counties after The Associated Press and other news outlets declared Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden the winner of Michigan Wednesday night, a key battleground state that could determine the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
Biden pulled ahead of Trump in Michigan around 9 a.m. Wednesday as votes started to come in from the most Democratic county in the state, Wayne County, which encompasses the city of Detroit. In a Wednesday morning tweet, Trump alleged foul play.
“Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the “pollsters” got it completely & historically wrong!”
The outcomes across Michigan prompted the Trump campaign to file a lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims contesting the state’s preliminary voting results, which it announced in a statement Wednesday around noon.
“President Trump’s campaign has not been provided with meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process, as guaranteed by Michigan law,” Trump 2020 Campaign Manager Bill Stepien said in the statement. “We have filed suit today in the Michigan Court of Claims to halt counting until meaningful access has been granted. President Trump is committed to ensuring that all legal votes are counted in Michigan and everywhere else.”
Hillsdale College Professor of Politics Thomas West said that while unconfirmed, he is wary of Michigan’s counts.
“I got the same news everyone else got, which is that there’s a sudden and absolutely amazing jump in the number of Biden votes in a way that makes you wonder, ‘is there fraud involved here?’” West said.
He said this surprising “ballot dump” has caused him to question the accuracy of the ballot count.
“The suspicion that I would have, based on what the Democrats have been saying quite publicly, which is that they are going to win this election no matter what, is that there’s likely to be fraud involved,” West said.
Lecturer in Politics Bruno Cortes said the surge of votes in Michigan was noteworthy.
“The cumulative circumstances under which these ballots are now being counted is highly suspicious, especially when every error seems to be in Biden’s favor,” Cortes said. “The delay partly has to do with election laws in those states, which prohibit counting absentee ballots before Election Day. But the possession of those ballots should have been accounted for prior to Election Day. In other words, you don’t just ‘find ballots’ during an election.”
Cortes said he can’t recall a moment in history where “ballot dumping” occurred on such a large scale.
“This is all irregular,” he said. “I presume some of it can be attributed to absentee ballots. But there is a reason that elections have deadlines: to avoid situations like these, which invite corruption.”
On Election Day, Trump said his campaign would act to freeze mass counting of mail-in ballots.
“We want the law to be used in a proper manner, so we’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop,” Trump said. “We don’t want them finding any ballots at four in the morning and adding them to the list.”
The Biden campaign released a statement early Wednesday morning in retaliation, claiming the campaign’s legal team was “standing by, ready to deploy to resist that effort.”
West expressed concern that voters wouldn’t approach the issue with sufficient skepticism.
“We shouldn’t do what Nixon did in 1960. Nixon knew the Democrats had cheated in two states to put Kennedy over the top in Illinois and Texas,” West said. “He knew that, his people knew that, and he decided to not challenge Kennedy on the grounds that ‘we have a constitutional republic, and we want the public to remain confident this is fine.’”
West said he expected that the issue of mail-in ballots would go to the Supreme Court — but hopes that the election will remain fair with legal intervention.
According to Cortes, Trump is still on track to win the presidency. Despite the outcome of the election, he said that voter fraud should be addressed seriously.
“Voter fraud has always been a thing,” Cortes said. “The only question: what are we going to do about it? Keep fighting. Trump can contest and will. He already has his teams ready.”
Caleb Lambrecht contributed to this report.