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President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan claiming that the ballot handling and counting process had disenfranchised voters through “fraud and incompetence.”
Attorneys for the campaign attached to their lawsuit dozens of notarized statements from Michigan voters, Republican poll watchers, and other observers to corroborate Trump’s claims — including one who claimed it was peculiar that droves of US service members voted for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
“I did find it odd that, throughout the day/night, I saw a few dozen military ballots be counted,” a certified poll watcher claimed in his statement dated November 4. “Although I cannot provide specific numbers or names, I can estimate that at least 80% of the military ballots I saw were straight ticket Democrat or simply had Joe Biden’s name filled in on them.”
“I had always been told that military personnel tended to be more conservative, so this stuck out to me as the day went on,” he added.
The poll watcher, who was stationed at the TCF convention center in Detroit and claimed he had a “GOP network of friends,” also alleged he faced intimidation by his colleagues after scrutinizing their actions and calling for a ballot review. He was eventually escorted out of the location by police officers after debating with a supervisor.
The layout of absentee ballots vary by state and some designs make it easier to tell if they are from a US service member. Overseas Michiganders, such as service members, are allowed to vote through an electronic ballot that may be mailed in the event that physical ballots are not available — on top of these ballots are the words “MILITARY AND OVERSEAS VOTER BALLOT,” according to a Michigan Bureau of Elections manual dated March 2018.
But the poll observer’s anecdote of seeing an overwhelmingly majority of “military” ballots at his location supporting Democrats is being met with some pushback, particularly in the wake of Trump’s declining approval rating in recent polls and his attitude towards some veterans.
According to a Military Times and Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families poll conducted in late July, 42% of active-duty military respondents said they strongly disapproved of Trump’s tenure at the White House. Nearly half of the poll’s respondents said they viewed Trump unfavorably. That poll showed Biden had a 4-percentage-point lead over Trump.
But a separate Morning Consult poll found Trump with a 10-percentage point lead over Biden from military-affiliated households in October.
Despite Trump’s professed love towards US service members and veterans, several reports published this year have thrown that rosy assessment into doubt. In September, The Atlantic published a scathing report, one in which Trump was alleged to have disparaged dead military veterans.
The report written by editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg cited officials who claimed they heard Trump describing Marines who died during World War I as “losers” and “suckers;” and that he did not want injured veterans to appear at a military parade because he believed it would make spectators uneasy.
Trump’s opinion of the late Republican Sen. John McCain, the longtime Arizona lawmaker and US Navy veteran, also incensed veterans groups and congressional leaders with military service. After McCain died from an aggressive form of brain cancer in 2018, Trump was reportedly angry when the senator received half-staff flag honors. Trump was outspoken about his negative assessment of McCain, and previously rejected the notion of describing him as a war hero “because he was captured” during the Vietnam War.
Common Defense, a non-profit organization seeking to elect progressive candidates, questioned the long-standing belief that military service members and veterans would be inclined to support Republican candidates.
“The current military is as diverse as the population we are drawn from and serve,” a Common Defense spokesman told Insider. “And if there is one thing that unifies us, no matter where we fall on the political spectrum, it is our frustration with the perception that we are the props for any particular politician or political party.”
“Common Defense has campaigned for four years to mobilize veterans in swing states like Michigan to vote against Donald Trump, and so it is no surprise to us that military ballots in Detroit favored President-elect Joe Biden,” the spokesman added.
Trump’s allies have relied on anecdotal evidence, such as the poll observer’s claim in Michigan, and have set up hotlines offering rewards to those who can corroborate their allegations of voter fraud. For instance, Texas Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick this week offered $1 million of his own money for evidence of voter fraud.
So far, the Trump campaign’s lawsuits in numerous battleground states have lacked evidence-based substance. According to a New York Times report published Tuesday, election officials from 45 states say they witnessed no evidence of fraud or major issues with voting. As Insider’s Grace Panetta previously reported, an “American is more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit election fraud,” according to a data set of past convictions.
Insider and Decision Desk HQ projects that President-elect Joe Biden won Michigan’s 16 Electoral College votes.Join the conversation about this story »