- A Michigan judge dismissed a 2020 election lawsuit heavily hyped by former President Trump.
- The lawsuit over a local ballot proposal challenged the integrity of the county’s election.
- Antrim County’s results were fully audited and hand-recounted in December, affirming Trump’s win.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A Michigan judge formally dismissed a lawsuit seeking to audit and recount votes that former President Donald Trump heavily hyped as a “major” case, the Washington Post reported Monday
Trump posted a May 11 statement posted on his website cheerleading the Antrim County lawsuit, even though he was formally certified as winning the most votes in the county during the 2020 presidential election.
Trump touted the baseless contents of a “bombshell pleading” in a “major Michigan Election Fraud case” that he said will show that votes were “intentionally switched” to harm him, a claim for which there is no evidence.
He also compared the nonexistent fraud in the 2020 election to a heist of precious jewels, writing that if “a thief robs a jewelry store of all of its diamonds (the 2020 Presidential Election), the diamonds must be returned.”
Trump won a majority of votes in Antrim County but lost Michigan overall to now-President Joe Biden.
A human error with tabulating the results initially showed Biden winning the county. Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy, who happens to be a Republican, swiftly rectified the problem and certified the county’s election results for Trump, who carried the county with 61% of the vote with 37% going to Biden. Trump and his allies have seized on a quickly-corrected counting error in the county to spread disinformation about the 2020 election results.
The crux of the lawsuit filed by Antrim County resident Bill Bailey was about the results of a marijuana-related ballot initiative in the village of Central Lake, 9 & 10 News reported.
Bailey claimed he has the standing for the lawsuit because three ballots were spoiled during a recount for the initiative, though he does not actually live in Central Lake. Bailey asked the judge to allow him to conduct his own audit of all the 2020 election results, baselessly alleging that software developed by Dominion Voting Systems used in the election was intentionally programmed to falsify results.
The state of Michigan already audited the results
The Antrim County election results were already audited nearly five months ago, as lawyers for the townships and the Michigan secretary of state’s office noted in a May 11 hearing.
On December 17, officials from the secretary of state’s office oversaw a risk-limiting audit of the county’s election, conducted by bipartisan counting boards, that included a full hand-recount of all 15,000 ballots cast in the county affirmed Trump’s win over Biden. It boosted the margin of Trump’s win by 11 votes from 9,748 to 9,759. As the secretary of state’s office noted, it’s common for there to be slight changes in hand recounts due to human counters interpreting pen marks or write-in votes differently than ballot scanners.
The judge overseeing the case, 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer, dismissed the case as moot because Antrim’s results had already been fully verified in both the December recount and in a statewide post-election audit that finished up in March, according to the Post.
Despite the recount, Bailey continued to press his lawsuit. His attorney Matthew DePerno, who has embraced Trump’s support for the legal efforts on social media, issued subpoenas to various Antrim County lawsuits, according to the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Bailey also tried to expand the scope of the lawsuit by adding state and local election officials as defendants. In a hearing Money attended by 9 & 10 News, he claimed that expanding the lawsuit and having Elsenheimer enforce the subpoenas would allow him to prove the existence of widespread fraud. There is no evidence of widespread fraud.
DePerno is also seeking a subpoena for Dominion. The election technology company has been the subject of a number of conspiracy theories falsely alleging it used its devices and software to “flip” results from Trump to Biden. The December audit found that Dominion’s technology accurately tabulated the county’s votes and played no role in the initially erroneous tabulation.
Dominion is involved in several defamation lawsuits against election conspiracy theorists and right-wing media organizations it says pushed those false theories. Bailey’s lawsuit has been bolstered by an error-ridden “report” by Russell Ramsland, a conspiracy theorist championed by Trump. Attorneys for Dominion sent both Ramsland and DePerno document-retention letters in December, warning of “imminent” defamation litigation. A representative for Dominion directed Insider to a fact-check of Ramsland’s claims.
Attorneys for Antrim County and the Michigan secretary of state’s office asked Elsenheimer to dismiss the case in the May 11 hearing, arguing that Bailey’s legal rights had been satisfied by the December audit, which found that the results were sound. Elsenheimer said he’d decide whether to grant the dismissal next week, according to 9 & 10 News.
Despite his electoral loss, Trump has continued to falsely claim he was the true winner of the 2020 presidential election, and has endorsed a recount in Arizona’s Maricopa County that has been condemned by election experts.
If Bailey loses his Antrim County lawsuit, it will be another addition to the list of more than 40 failed election lawsuits from Trump and his allies.