Michigan state Judge Timothy Kenny has rejected a sweeping lawsuit from a group of plaintiffs including Kristina Karamo, the Trump-backed Republican pick for Secretary of State in Michigan during this year’s elections. In the course of the lawsuit, Karamo’s team raised at least a dozen distinguishable claims about the security and handling of balloting in Detroit, and Kenny refuted them all.
Karamo even raised a complaint about compliance in Detroit with a piece of state law demanding that information be provided on Election Day about the number of absentee ballots both requested and returned. Election Day isn’t here yet! One of the two individuals whose testimony was central in proceedings last Thursday attested that local authorities intended to comply with those rules. “Plaintiffs’ allegation speculates about a future event,” the judge observed. “Preliminary injunction relief is not available for future, speculative events.” Among other issues, Kenny also pointed out problems with the late timing of the lawsuit in question: “Plaintiffs sat on their hands for months before bringing a complaint claiming violations of Michigan statutory election law in the August, 2022 primary and the relief sought would create the potential harm of disenfranchising tens of thousands of Detroiters in the November 8, 2022 general election. This is unacceptable and cannot be permitted.”
The exact nature of the relief that plaintiffs including Karamo were seeking changed in the course of the case. In court, the plaintiffs’ team at one juncture refused to spell out the contours of what they wanted done, instead promising details would come later. “As a judge for 26 years, this is the first time I have ever had a circumstance where the party instigating the lawsuit, when asked by the judge: ‘What’s the relief you’re asking for?’, I don’t get an answer,” the judge said. “I’m told wait to see it in the brief.” Issues that were raised during the challenge could have threatened the entirety of mail-in voting in the city of Detroit, without applying the same standards elsewhere in Michigan — a swing state in which Detroit constitutes one of its more Democratic-leaning areas.
Although the plaintiffs eventually changed their push, they originally wanted residents of Detroit to be compelled by court order to either vote in person or obtain an absentee ballot in person — not via the mail. (In Michigan, there is no early voting in person, so mandating in-person voting would’ve potentially swamped polling places on Tuesday.) Tens of thousands already voted via largely if not entirely mailed absentee ballots before the challenge came up in court. In a request for relief eventually filed last Friday, plaintiffs looked beyond Election Day to the manner in which local officials would handle results, asking for measures including a publicly accessible video stream for portions of the local electoral process — which, again, is evidently out of line under relevant legal standards because it covers an event that hasn’t happened yet.
Predictably, the plaintiffs also raised complaints about equipment from Dominion Voting Systems, whose tabulators are used in Detroit. The case misrepresented the nature of those machines’ operation. The case claimed a process called adjudication, in which potential issues on ballots like votes for more than one candidate in the same race or stray marks can be handled, includes alterations to images of ballots. In reality, any new image created in the course of processing locally submitted votes doesn’t replace images of the ballot as it was originally delivered to officials. Physical ballots are also retained. Staff at Dominion continue facing threats to their safety amid lies from Trump and others about the company and imaginary fraud.