Michigan: Donald J. Trump for President v. Jocelyn Benson
Michigan: Donald J. Trump for President v. Jocelyn Benson
State of Michigan Court of Claims
Judge Cynthia Stephens
DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT,
JOCELYN BENSON, in her official
Capacity as SECRETARY OF STATE
Jerome W. Zimmer Jr.
Donald J. Trump for President v. Benson (Michigan State Court)
The Trump campaign filed suit in Michigan State Court on November 4 against Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, claiming its election observers were not allowed to view the ballot count, as required by Michigan law, and asking the court to stop the counting of votes. On November 6, Judge Cynthia Stephens denied the request, noting in her ruling that the "essence of the count is completed, and the relief is completely unavailable".
The judge also noted the official complaint did not state "why", "when, where, or by whom" an election observer was allegedly blocked from observing ballot-counting in Michigan
9. A general election is being held in the State of ~ichigan on November 3, 2020.
10. MCL 168.765a, regarding Absent Voter Counting Boards, where absentee votes
are processed and counted, states in relevant part as follows:
At all times, at least 1 election inspector from each major pqlitical party must be present at the
absent voter counting place and the policies and procedurd adopted by the secretary of state
regarding the counting of absent voter ballots must be follo,'ed.
11. Michigan absent voter counting boards are not 9omplying with this statute. These
boards are being conducted without inspectors from each party being present.
12. Further, a political party, incorporated organi~ation, or organized committee of
interested citizens may designate one "challenger" to serve at elch counting board. MCL 168.730.
13. An election challenger's appointed under MCJ 168.730 has those responsibilities
described at MCL 168.733.
14. An election challenger's legal rights are as follo~s:
a. An election challenger shall be provided a $pace within a polling place where
they can observe the election procedure and tach person applying to vote. MCL
b. An election challenger must be allowed opportunity to inspect poll books as
ballots are issued to electors and witness tl11
e electors' names being entered in
the poll book. MCL 168.733(1)(a).
c. An election Challenger must be allowed to observe the manner in which the
duties of the election inspectors are being p9rformed. MCL 168.733(l)(b),
d. An election challenger is authorized to challenge the voting rights of a person
who the challenger has good reason to belieye is not a registered elector. MCL
e. An election challenger is authorized to chadenge an election procedure that is
not being properly performed. MCL 168.733(1)(d).
f. An election challenger may bring to an election inspector's attention any of the
following: ( 1) improper handling of a ballot ~y an elector or election inspector;
(2) a violation of a regulation made by the I board of election inspectors with
regard to the time in which an elector may remain in the polling place; (3)
campaigning and fundraising being perfonn~d by an election inspector or other
person covered by MCL 168. 744; and/or ( 4) ~ny other violation of election law
or other prescribed election procedure. MCrj, 168.733(l)(e). . I .
g. An election challenger may remain present d~~ring the canvass of votes and until
the statement ofreturns is duly signed and 1~ade. MCL 168.733(1)(±).
h. An election challenger may examine each blllot as it is being counted. MCL
1. An election challenger may keep records of votes cast and other election
procedures as the challenger desires. MCL 168.733(l)(h)
J. A.n election challenger may observe the re]cording of absent voter ballots on
voting machines. MCL 168.733(1)(i).
15. Michigan values the important role chall ngers perform in assurmg the
transparency and integrity of elections. For. example, Micl1igan law pro~ides it is a felony
punishable by up to two years in state prison for any person to threaten or intimidate a challenger
who is performing any activity described in Michigan law. M : L 168.734( 4); MCL 168.734. It is
a felony punishable by up to two years in state prison for any terson to prevent the presence of a
challenger exercising their. rights or to fail to provide a _chal enger with "conveniences for the
performance ofthe[ir] duties." MCL 168.734.
16. Local election jurisdictions locate ballot drop-pff boxes without opportunity for
challengers to observe the process, and as such Secretary Ben~on violates her constitutional and
statutory authority and damages the integrity of Michigan elect~ons.
17. Michigan law requires that ballot containers be monatored by vidio survillence See Senate Bill 757 at 76ld(4)(c).
18. Secretary Benson is violating the Michigan Con _titution and Michigan election law
by allowing absent voter ballots to be processed and counteJ without allowing challengers to (
observe the video of the ballot boxes into which these ballots a~:e placed.
19. Plaintiffs asks Secretary Benson to segregate !ballots cast in these remote and (
unattended ballot drop boxes and, before the ballots are processed, removed from their verifying
envelopes, and counted, allow designated challengers to view tAe video of the remote ballot box.
20. S~cretary Benson's actions and her failure to act 1lave undermined the constitutional
right of all Michigan voters - including the voters bringing thi~ action -- to participate in fair and
lawful elections. These Michigan citizens' constitutional rights are being violated by Secretary
Benson's failure to prevent unlawful ballots to be processed and her failure to ensure that
statutorily-authorized challengers have a right to do their job.
Secretary Benson violated the Equal Prqtection Clause
of Michigan's Constitutio~
2 l. Michigan's Constitution declares that " [ n] o f erson shall be de.nied the equal
protection of the laws .... " Const 1963, mi 1, § 2. 1
22. This clause is coextensive with the United Stat1
es Constitution's Equal Protection
Clause. HarvWe v. State Plumbing & Heating 218 Mich. App. 302, 305-306; 553 N.W.2d 377
(1996). See also Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98, 104 (2000) ("Haying once granted the right to vote
on equal terms, the State may not, by later arbitrary and dispdrate treatment, value one person's . '
vote over that of another."); Harper v. Virginia Bd of Elections; 383 U.S. 663, 665, (1966) ("Once
the franchise is granted to the electorate, lines may not be drawn which are inconsistent with the
Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.")'
23. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive reliefr~quiring Secretary Benson to direct
that election authorities comply with Michigan law mandating liection inspectors from each paiiy
and allowing challengers access to video of ballot boxes befor~ counting of relevant votes takes
Secretary Benson and Oakland County violated Mich~gan voters' rights under the
Michigan Constitution's "purity of elec~ions" clause.
24. The Michigan Constitution's "purity of electi~ns" clause states, "the legislature
shall enact laws to regulate the time, place and manner of all no1~1inations and elections, to preserve
the purity of elections, to preserve the secrecy of the ballot, to luard against abuses of the elective
franchise, and to provide for a system of voter registration and absentee voting." Const. 1963, mi
25. "The phrase 'purity of elections' does not hav, a single precise meaning. But it
unmistakably requires fairness and evenhandedness in the elec~ion laws of this sta~e." Barrow v.
Detroit Election Comm., 854 N.W.2d 489,504 (Mich. Ct. Appl 2014).
26. Michigan statutes protect the purity of elections by allowing ballot chal~engers and
election inspectors to monitor absentee ballots at counting bom!ds.
27. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief r~quiring Secretary Benson to direct
that election authorities comply with Michigan law mandating ~lection inspectors from each party
and allowing challengers access to video of ballot boxes befoJe counting of relevant votes takes
The Secretary of State is Violating of MfL 168.765a.
28. MCL 168.765a, regarding Absent Voter Counfng Boards, where absentee votes
are processed and counted, states in relevant pmi as follows:
At all times, at least 1 election inspector from each major po,litical party must be present at the
absent voter counting place and the policies and procedure~ adopted by the secretary of state
regarding the counting of absent voter ballots must be follo.J.red.
29. Michigan absent voter counting boards, under !the authority of Secretary Benson.
are not complying with this statute. These boards are being onducted without inspectors from
each party being present.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
These Michigan citizens and voters ask this Court to:
A. Order "a speedy hearing" of this action and "advance it on the calendar" as provided
by MCR 2.605(D);
B. Mandate that Secretary Benson order all countiqg and processing of absentee votes
cease immediately until an election inspector from each par~y is present at each absent voter
counting board and until video is made available to challenger~ of each ballot box;
C. Mandate that Secretary Benson order the immeliate segregation of all ballots that
are not being inspected and monitored as aforesaid and as is re1uired under law. i
D. Award these Michigan citizens the costs, expetses, and expert witness fees they
incurred in this action as allowed by law.