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Federal judge upholds Michigan election: 'The people have spoken'

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

A federal judge has rejected a last-minute push by Michigan Republicans who sought an emergency order to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the state, saying the effort aimed to "ignore the will of millions of voters."

The suit seemed "less about achieving the relief" the GOP plaintiffs sought and "more about the impact of their allegations on people’s faith in the democratic process and their trust in our government," wrote Detroit U.S. District Court Judge Linda Parker of Michigan's Eastern District.

"The People have spoken," wrote Parker, who issued the ruling in the early morning hours of Monday, a week before the nation's presidential electors will meet.

People stand in line at Warren's Precinct 4 as they wait to receive and cast their ballots inside the Fitzgerald Recreation Center in Warren, Tuesday afternoon, November 3, 2020.

Trump lost Michigan 51%-48% or by 154,000 votes to President-elect Joe Biden, and the Board of State Canvassers certified the tally on Nov. 23.

On Nov. 25, six Michigan Republicans, represented by conservative attorney Sidney Powell, filed their lawsuit asking for "emergency relief," including a court order requiring Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to sign off on certified election results that state "President Donald Trump is the winner of the election."

The suit also asked the federal judge to impound "all voting machines and software in Michigan for expert inspection." The defendants in Powell's suit are Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the Board of State Canvassers.

Powell is a Trump supporter who has previously appeared with his legal team and is filing similar challenges in multiple states. Her suits have relied heavily on conspiracy theories and debunked claims of voter fraud.

In Michigan, the challenge focused on murky claims about election tabulation software and data "analyses" that attempted to call into question Michigan's results.

But the plaintiffs presented only "speculation and conjecture" that votes for Trump were destroyed, discarded or switched to votes for Biden, wrote Parker, who was nominated by President Barack Obama.

"The closest plaintiffs get to alleging that election machines and software changed votes for President Trump to Vice President Biden in Wayne County is an amalgamation of theories, conjecture, and speculation that such alterations were possible," she said.

Parker wrote that Powell's plaintiffs were seeking judicial action that was "stunning in its scope and breathtaking in its reach."

"If granted, the relief would disenfranchise the votes of the more than 5.5 million Michigan citizens who, with dignity, hope, and a promise of a voice, participated in the 2020 general Election," the judge said. 

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker

Parker's ruling came a day before the so-called "safe harbor" deadline for states to resolve "any controversy or contest concerning the appointment of all or any of the electors." The 16 Biden electors in Michigan are set to meet in Lansing on Dec. 14.

The plaintiffs in the case — three Trump electors and three local Republican officials — had already missed other deadlines for challenging an election, Parker said.

"This case represents well the phrase: 'this ship has sailed,'" the judge wrote. "The time has passed to provide most of the relief plaintiffs request in their amended complaint; the remaining relief is beyond the power of any court. For those reasons, this matter is moot."

Granting the plaintiffs' request would "greatly harm the public interest," Parker added.

cmauger@detroitnews.com