The Trump campaign finally succeeded in one of its challenges yesterday to the extent that it was granted a court order for access and a forensic investigation of roughly two dozen Dominion voting machines. The machines are located in rural Antrim County where roughly 6000 votes were initially assigned to President-elect Joe Biden but then corrected and tabulated in favor of President Donald Trump. Four weeks ago, we discussed this controversy and the concern that such acknowledged human error could occur in other districts. The order from Judge Kevin Elsenheimer, however, concerns not the presidential election but a recounting of ballots in a village marijuana proposal.
Even though the challenge by voter William Bailey concerned legalized marijuana, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani proclaimed a great victory for “BIG WIN FOR HONEST ELECTIONS.”
The actual order concerns a recounting of the marijuana proposal in the Village of Central Lake that passed by one vote. However, it will afford critics the first crack at Dominion machines to justify their claims of tampering with votes.
For weeks, I have been expressing skepticism over the campaign challenges but also criticism of the Biden campaign for opposing such efforts to examine these allegations. There have been unlawful orders and voting irregularities. The problem for the Trump campaign has been establishing systemic errors or fraud that would overturn any of these state elections. There is also the “sticker shock” problem in seeking to block certification of the state electoral votes. Finally, the campaign has been stymied in its effort to gain access to evidence, and machines, in the possession of the election officials.
I am gladdened by the order not because I think that it is likely to uncover any problem. I do not. Rather, polls show that up to 90 percent of Republicans and even a fair number of Democrats believe question the legitimacy of this election. With roughly 74 million voting for President Trump, such doubts are dangerous for this country which remains a virtual powder keg. The best option is greater scrutiny and transparency.
We have had failures of leadership on both sides. President Trump has fueled the anger not by seeking challenges, which is his right. He has field by anger by declaring the election “stolen” and “rigged” and acting officials like Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger the “enemy of the people.” President-elect Biden failed to see that this country’s divisions will not be resolved — even partially — without greater scrutiny. He should have declared immediately that his campaign would not oppose judicial review of any and all election challenges.
Many of these cases have been dismissed on standing or laches or other threshold challenges. This order will assure skeptical voters that access to evidence has been granted. It will not persuade many if no problems are found, but it could persuade some. Otherwise, we will be left with same unadulterated rage from the last four years.
That is why I am gladdened by the order and hope that, to the greatest extent possible, such access can be granted in the future. Otherwise, we are looking at an exceptionally destructive and even dangerous period in our history.