Donald J. Trump and Eric Ostergren v. Jocelyn Benson, 20-000225-MZ
In the case of Donald J. Trump and Eric Ostergren v. Jocelyn Benson (20-000225-MZ), plaintiffs alleged that Michigan’s Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson, had violated election laws during the 2020 General Election. They argued that she had dismissed statutory requirements for bipartisan observation of the counting of votes and verification of voter qualifications. Trump and Ostergren specifically alleged unobserved, partisan review of absentee voters and absence of meaningful observation of the counting board, contrary to the State election law (Michigan Department of State Bureau of Elections, 2020).
The principle issue of this case was to determine whether the Michigan Secretary of State had breached election laws by sidestepping statutory requirements of bipartisan examination of vote counting and voter qualification validation. Also under consideration was whether the lack of provision for meaningful observation of the procedures by authorized people constituted a breach.
Holding and Rule
Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens held that the plaintiff's interpretive and affirmative narrative fell short of demonstrating a likelihood of success on the merits. That is, the arguments presented were not enough to support the claim that the Secretary of State had violated the laws. Her ruling was based on a lack of admissible evidence and lack of specificity in the claims made by the plaintiffs. In terms of the law, the court stated that all counting boards are required by MI statute to have challengers present and hence, the claim is largely speculative (Ruelas, 2020).
Judge Stephens dismissed the lawsuit asserting that most of the plaintiff's allegations were hearsay and could not be substantiated. She also declined to issue an injunction halting the vote counting process as requested by the plaintiffs. This ruling reaffirmed the integrity and legitimacy of the vote counting process managed by Defendant Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s Secretary of State (Michigan Department of State Bureau of Elections, 2020).
Michigan Department of State Bureau of Elections. (2020). 'Election Challengers and Poll Watchers'. Official State Document.
Ruelas, R. (2020). 'Judge discredits Trump campaign's claim on Arizona 'overvote' suit'. The Arizona Republic.
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