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Thursday, February 22, 2024
Courthouse News Service
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GOP Voters Take Fight Over Detroit Election Results to Appeals Court

Two Michigan voters who filed a lawsuit last week claiming voter fraud in Detroit only to be shot down by a state judge filed an appeal Monday morning in their longshot bid to force an audit of election results.

DETROIT (CN) — Two Michigan Republicans who filed a lawsuit last week claiming voter fraud in Detroit only to be shot down by a state judge filed an appeal Monday morning in their longshot bid to force an audit of election results.

Wayne County voters Cheryl A. Costantino and Edward P. McCall Jr. took their case to the Michigan Court of Appeals, arguing last Friday’s ruling from Chief Circuit Court Judge Timothy M. Kenny incorrectly interpreted state law cited in their complaint.

“A free and fair election is an essential right in America. To ensure this right, the citizens of Michigan amended the Michigan Constitution by referendum in 2018. Article II, Section 4, Paragraph 1(h) of the Michigan Constitution now states that every citizen has ‘[t]he right to have the results of statewide elections audited, in such a manner as prescribed by law, to ensure the accuracy and integrity of elections,’” the appeal petition states.

Costantino and McCall, both Republican poll watchers, sued Detroit and Wayne County officials over what they called a lack of transparency in the election process. Among other claims, they alleged poll workers were instructed by election officials to not verify signatures on absentee ballots and process them regardless of their validity.

They argue on appeal that the right to an audit of election results is not predicated on a finding of wrongdoing and is appropriate in light of the “systematic and widespread fraud” outlined in their lawsuit.  

Monday’s filing attacked Kenny’s opinion denying an injunction, saying he made his findings without hearing direct testimony from witnesses or looking at evidence. Costantino and McCall claim Kenny fixated on the fact that none of the vote challengers relevant to the case attended a walk-through meeting in the lead up to election night even though they were not informed about it. 

Kenny noted the presence of a large computer monitor installed at Detroit’s central counting center detailing voting tabulation as it happened, but the poll watchers pushed back on that finding.

“The court fails to note that these monitors are meaningless if the poll challengers are denied the right to see the actual ballots being counted so they can compare the names on the actual ballots with the names appearing on the monitor,” the filing states.

As workers counted votes at the TCF Center in downtown Detroit after the election, a large crowd of vocal and animated supporters of President Donald Trump gathered outside. Monday’s appeal blames the election workers for the “short disruption,” claiming they obstructed poll watchers.

“However, this event has no bearing on, and does not negate, the direct observations and violations observed by plaintiffs/appellants and their witnesses,” the filing states. “They did not participate in this event, yet the trial court holds it against them in his opinion and order.”

The Detroit Free Press reported that hundreds of vote challengers converged as election night wore on and the limits for both Republicans and Democrats were reached. The challengers who were excluded continued to gather in front of the TCF Center to protest and in the process intimidated workers who eventually covered the windows with cardboard to eliminate the distraction.

Costantino and McCall’s complaint asserted that election workers processed and counted ballots from voters whose names were not listed in the qualified voter file and used random names from the list when a voter’s name could not be confirmed.

“After election officials announced the last absentee ballots had been received, another batch of unsecured and unsealed ballots, without envelopes, arrived in trays at the TCF Center. There were tens of thousands of these absentee ballots, and apparently every ballot was counted and attributed only to Democratic candidates,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit further alleged that election workers removed Republican vote challengers from the TCF Center premises when they “politely” raised objections.

The Trump campaign also recently filed suit in the Michigan Court of Claims in an effort to overturn the results of the election and announced the filing of a federal complaint in the Western District of Michigan alleging irregularities with the voting process. Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled against the campaign, which then unsuccessfully appealed because it was missing critical documents.

David Fink, an attorney for Detroit, dismissed Costantino and McCall’s lawsuit in an interview last week.

“It’s not grounded in fact, it’s not grounded in logic. It’s based on conspiracy theories, all of which have been debunked,” he told Fox 2 Detroit.

Categories / Appeals, Government, Politics, Regional

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