BELLAIRE — A Monday hearing will determine the fate of one of the last active lawsuits challenging the validity of the 2020 election.
A 13th Circuit Court judge is scheduled to hear arguments on a defense request to dismiss an Antrim County election-related lawsuit —a move opposed by the plaintiff who, court records show, is instead seeking to expand the case.
Throughout the U.S., hundreds of lawsuits challenging balloting issues, election equipment or the results of the 2020 election have been filed in local, state and federal courts, information from the American Bar Association shows.
The case in Antrim County is among the few yet to be adjudicated, records show.
A judge in Arizona ruled the Republican-led Senate could hire a third-party contractor — Doug Logan of Florida-based Cyber Ninjas — to conduct an audit of the 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County in the 2020 election, which is ongoing.
Cyber Ninjas, listed in court documents as an expert witness for the plaintiff in the Antrim County lawsuit, was also referenced in a letter sent Wednesday from the U.S. Department of Justice to an Arizona official.
“This description of the proposed work of the audit raises concerns regarding potential intimidation of voters,” Pamela S. Karlan, of the Civil Rights division of the DOJ, wrote to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann.
A spokesperson with the Michigan Attorney General’s office said the AG had no comment on whether there was an effort to conflate the two cases
Assistant Michigan Attorney General Erik Grill — representing intervener Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson — and attorney Haider Kazim — representing defendant Antrim County — filed a joint motion requesting Judge Kevin Elsenheimer dismiss the lawsuit.
The April 9 request — called a motion for summary disposition —argues a local man, Bill Bailey of Central Lake Township, both lacks standing to bring the lawsuit and has already received from the court everything he asked for in his original complaint.
Elsenheimer allowed Bailey and his attorney, Matthew DePerno, to have a third party conduct a forensic examination of the county’s Dominion Voting Systems equipment, for example. And the pair tasked representatives from a Dallas-based firm, Allied Security Operations Group, to come to Antrim County on Dec. 6 and conduct the exam.
Representatives from the state’s Bureau of Elections also visited the county, training local volunteer poll workers for a hand re-count of the county’s presidential election, an approximately seven hour process which was livestreamed Dec. 17, and found no fraud.
“All election results have been certified and none of the candidates in Antrim County requested a recount,” Grill said in court filings. “Officials elected through the November 3 election have taken office and begun performing their duties.”
A hearing on whether to dismiss the case is set for Monday at 1:30 p.m.
Bailey continues to argue the county violated his constitutional rights after an error by County Clerk Sheryl Guy caused about 2,000 votes cast for then-President Donald Trump, to be initially — and mistakenly — tallied for then-challenger Joe Biden.
Guy, a Republican, corrected her office’s vote tally errors prior to the state’s certification of the county’s November election results, and records show Trump won Antrim County by a large margin, receiving 9,748 votes to Biden’s 5,960 votes.
Bailey also contends in court filings the county’s Dominion Voting Systems election equipment was intentionally programmed for fraud and that passage of a marijuana proposal “diluted” his vote — though he does not live in the jurisdiction where the proposal was on the ballot.
Trump political operatives, including attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and MyPillow Chief Executive Officer Mike Lindell, made similar accusations during national media appearances and have all been sued by Dominion for defamation.
DePerno has received a cease and desist letter from Dominion, as previously reported, though recent court filings made on behalf of Bailey show, he is seeking to expand the case against the small rural county in the northern part of the state’s lower peninsula.
Subpoenas seeking election data were served on 15 Antrim County townships last month and on a Dominion branch office in Mt. Pleasant.
“We will do anything that is appropriate if we’re asked to do so by the court,” said Stanley Garnett, an attorney for Dominion based in Denver who coordinates the company’s state-to-state legal representation.
“I understand the state has filed a motion to quash,” Garnett added, of the Michigan AG’s office’s efforts to cancel the subpoenas. “I think what you’re seeing from Mr. DePerno is a fairly scattershot approach and it doesn’t appear to be a serious effort to litigate under Michigan court rules.”
DePerno said in an email to the Record-Eagle that Bailey’s legal team had verified “DVS” — presumably Dominion Voting Systems — was “entirely corruptible.”
“Once people extricate themselves from their liberal conspiracy theory fevor-dreams (sic) and actually look at the evidence, they will see that challenging fraudulent elections is what will save our democracy.”
Assistant Attorney General Grill filed a motion to quash the subpoenas, as did Peter Wendling, a Bellaire attorney representing several of the townships, and the issue is on hiatus, pending a judge’s ruling, expected Monday.
A previous effort by DePerno to subpoena election data from several Michigan counties was characterized by Elsenheimer as a “fishing expedition” and denied.
DePerno now is requesting similar election data from the 15 townships in Antrim County and his plan, as spelled out in the subpoenas, was for township officials to bring the records and equipment to the Kearney Township Hall in Bellaire, between May 5-7.
“I found it odd,” Wendling said, of the way DePerno filed the subpoenas. “He never contacted anyone about using the hall. You can rent it, but it’s not like he can just walk in there and say it’s going to be open for him to conduct his business.”
The Kearney Township Hall is available for $225 a day, $375 for two days or $525 for a weekend, the fee and a security deposit must be paid in advance and helium balloons, candles and animals are all prohibited, according to a lease agreement.
Officials said the facility is commonly used for retirement parties, wedding receptions and funeral lunches.
Another motion, filed by DePerno May 4, seeks to add Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy, state Bureau of Elections Director Jonathan Brater and Election Source, a Dominion subcontractor, to the lawsuit as defendants.
A hearing on that issue will not be argued before Elsenheimer until May 18, though elected officials and residents had plenty to say about Guy and her handling of the county’s elections, during a county commission meeting Thursday.
“I would like to demand you take a vote of no confidence of Clerk Guy and ask her to resign from elected office, thank you,” said Walt Rosenthal, who said he lives in Charlevoix County but owns property in Antrim County’s Marion Township.
Several others called for Guy’s resignation, while additional commenters expressed support for Guy in more than 45 letters mailed to commissioners and in public statements made remotely and at the meeting.
“I’d like to voice my support for Sheryl Guy and my clerk Michele Valuet,” said Allen Wolf, who identified himself as a 37-year property owner of Kearney Township. “I believe that spreading the big lie of non-existent voter fraud is only tearing the Republican Party apart and making us a national joke.”
“All the research I have read is that our election was good and solid,” said Judith Kaiper, a psychologist with a practice in Central Lake.
“My concern is the lies being spread and the misinformation that it did not have integrity,” Kaiper added. “And the concerns of what that will do to the preservation of our democracy for now and ongoing.”
When told of these concerns, DePerno said challenging election results is a right guaranteed by the First Amendment, specifically citing a person’s Constitutional right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Guy’s supporters requested commissioners give the clerk a vote of confidence, detractors sought her resignation or removal — she’s an elected official so state law holds only the governor can do that — and commissioners did neither.
In the more than seven hour meeting, commissioners also discussed whether they have the authority to conduct their own audit, forensic accounting or hand recount of the county’s 2020 election results.
They don’t — state law says only the Secretary of State can conduct and audit elections in Michigan.
A motion by Commissioner Dawn LaVanway to hire a third party to conduct a voter file review and a forensic audit of the county’s 2020 election results was tabled until the June meeting.