US President Donald Trump speaks about early results of the 2020 US presidential election in the East Room of the White House in Washington, USA, on November 4, 2020.
Carlos Barria | Reuters
President Donald Trump's campaign announced Wednesday that it had filed lawsuits to stop ballot counting in Michigan and Pennsylvania as the campaign called for improved access to monitor the counting process at numerous locations in these battlefield states.
The Trump campaign also said its Michigan lawsuit requires the campaign to "check the Michigan ballots that were opened and counted while we did not have significant access."
In Pennsylvania, the campaign announced that it would intervene in an existing Supreme Court case relating to the state's extension of the deadline for receiving ballots.
Regardless, the campaign is filing two legal steps: one to stop what the campaign called "hiding" Democratic officials for "counting and processing ballots from our Republican election observers," and the other to try to reverse an order to extend the deadline for absenteeism and mail-in voters in order to provide missing proof of identification.
The announcements come as the incumbent Republican faces an extremely close race against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in Michigan and Pennsylvania, as well as two other battlefields, Georgia and Nevada.
A woman who answered the phone in the Michigan Court of Claims clerk's office said she was aware of the Trump campaign statement but also said the office has not yet received the lawsuit.
At the time the lawsuit was announced, NBC News reported that Biden led Trump with 49.5% of the votes cast in Michigan, compared with 48.8% for Trump, which is less than 38,000 votes ahead.
A total of 94% of the state's ballot papers had been counted so far.
The lawsuit was announced when Trump suggested, without evidence, that Michigan had "found" ballots to deny a victory to John James, the Republican candidate for the Michigan Senate race.
"With the votes in Michigan still counting, the president's race in the state remains extremely close, as we've always known it to be," said Bill Stepien, Trump 2020 campaign manager.
"President Trump's campaign was not given meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of the ballot papers and the counting process, as guaranteed by Michigan law," Stepien said.
"We filed a lawsuit with the Michigan Court of Claims today to stop counting until meaningful access is granted. We also request a review of the ballots that were opened and counted while we did not have meaningful access," said Stepien.
"President Trump is campaigning for all legal votes in Michigan and everywhere else to be counted."
A spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel replied, "Michigan's elections were conducted transparently, with access to both political parties and the public, and a solid system of scrutiny to ensure that all ballot papers were fair and accurate be counted. "
"At this point our department has not yet been notified of this lawsuit by the Court of Claims. If we are served, we will investigate it and act accordingly," said spokesman Ryan Jarvi. "Michigan will always protect the right of all voters to have their ballots counted."
Michigan State Secretary Jocelyn Benson said earlier Wednesday the state would finish counting ballots by Thursday morning.
Benson said Michigan is focused on "counting every single ballot".
– Additional reporting from Kevin Breuninger