To date, the Trump campaign's many, many legal attempts to challenge his undeniable electoral loss have been, shall we say, not so successful. Like ... at all. (Whether they were ever designed to succeed is a different question altogether). Still, the president and his team continue to push at least a dozen dubious lawsuits intended — at least in theory — to disrupt, or even overturn, vote counts in multiple states whose election results he simply does not like.
Among those lawsuits is one particularly frivolous-seeming case in Michigan, where Trump campaign lawyers filed a traunch of sworn affidavits this week, in which dozens of Republican poll challengers allege a host of electoral shenanigans. However, a huge portion of the claims seem to be less "massive, coordinated voter fraud" and more "I have no idea what I'm doing, but everyone there was kind of mean to me, and also I'm afraid of Black people."
As many have noted, while the whole of the affidavits doesn't exactly prove any sort of misconduct, it does contain a few allegations of genuinely inappropriate and unacceptable behavior; one poll challenger was confronted simply for not speaking English as their first language, while another ethnically Chinese observer was accused of not being American. But even these instances, like the bulk of the complaints in the filing, are less focused on actual electoral misconduct than on treatment of the poll challengers themselves.
Here, then, are just a few of the highlights from the more than 230-page filing:
Jacqueline Zaplitny: Despite having been photographed by the Associated Press hovering directly over ballot-counters with her mask sagging and her nose fully exposed, Zaplitny made a special point in her affidavit of complaining that a "man of intimidating size with a BLM shirt on" had intimidated her by "very closely following challengers, including myself, even though there was supposed to be social distancing going on."
According to HuffPost, Zaplitny later posted the AP photo of her sub-par mask-wearing to her Facebook page, which was also littered with right-wing memes and and rambling conspiracy theories.
John M. Downing: A volunteer with the "Lawyers for Trump" group, Downing claims he arrived at Detroit's Cobo Convention Center after a poll challenger claimed she and more than a dozen other Republican operatives were stuck on the roof parking lot of the Cobo Convention Center and were being refused entry into the building. When he arrived, Downing was told by a Cobo employee that the group needed to park in a different garage, and then they would be let in at a nearby entrance. Downing then went to the prescribed entrance, and — after some negotiation with the security guard present — confirmed the group would be let in there. However, when he returned to the roof "the volunteers were gone."
Approximately 15 minutes later, Downing says he was told that that attorneys were being allowed in "via Garage A" but that "we tried to find a garage but could not find it."
If this all sounds vaguely like an episode of Seinfeld to you, then congratulations, you're onto something here.
Jennifer Lindsey Cooper: Jennifer's name is Jennifer, not Karen. This is important to remember, because being called Karen, evidently, is somehow proof of massive voter fraud. Per Cooper:
I was told ‘go back to the suburbs Karen’ and other harassing statements. The Democrat challengers would say things like ‘Do you feel safe with this woman near you’ and ‘is this Karen bothering you?’ I believe this was designed to intimidate me and obstruct me from observing and challenging.
Annoying? Sorta. Vaguely insulting? I suppose. Well-organized plot to steal a federal election for the highest office in the land? Not quite.
Braden Giacobazzi: One of the many observers present at Cobo Hall in Detroit, Giacobazzi says he decided to become a poll challenger after he "saw an online note from someone within my GOP network of friends." Among Giacobazzi's many complaints is the fact that the woman doing temperature checks outside the ballot-counting area was wearing a Black Lives Matter face mask, and that "EVERY" lawyer or law student he spoke with there was allegedly "ideologically far-left, supporting things like CHAZ/CHOP in Seattle and condoning the crime skyrocketing around the country."
Giacobazzi ended his affidavit by noting that:
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.
Incidentally, I have heard that military personnel don't like being called "losers" and "suckers" so, go figure.
Artricia Bomer: Making allegations of voter fraud is serious business. It is not, in the spirit of Michael Scott declaring "bankruptcy," something you can just say out loud and hope that reality will somehow comport with your assessment. Unfortunately, that seems to be much of Atricia Bomer's affidavit, which features multiple instances of simply describing something benign ("I observed a station where election workers were working on scanned ballots that had issues that needed to be corrected") and then making the galactic leap to fraud without corresponding evidence ("I believe that some of these workers were changing votes that had been cast for Donald Trump and other Republican candidates.")
Among the "irregularities" observed by Bomer: Some poll workers allegedly rolled their eyes while they were counting ballots she claimed were for Trump. And in one shocking instance of "people being excited about their job," Bomer claims that after a poll worker announced the impending arrival of 50 new ballot boxes, "election workers loudly cheered." Shocking stuff.
James P. Frego: An attorney, Frego's main allegation of wrongdoing ends up being a spectacular self-own, in which he admits that after being told that the maximum number of poll challengers had been admitted into the counting room, he put his foot in the door leading to the area in question, and — when ordered by a police officer to knock it off — refused to comply, and instead started arguing with the cop. As you might expect from someone making a huge stink and refusing to comply with a police officer, Frego was subsequently handcuffed and charged with disturbing the peace.
Of the incident, which says nothing about possible voter fraud, Frego explains: "at no time did I swear at the officers, and up to this point had never been arrested in my life (I am 57 years old)."
Kristy Klamer: In Klamer's case, the problem wasn't so much that people were mean to her as a GOP poll challenger, as it was that they...weren't. According to Klamer, while there was an overwhelming sense of not being wanted, there were also instances in which she "noticed a tactic of fake befriending" which evidently involved trying to ask "lots of questions to Republican challengers to either gather info or distract you while trying to observe."
Or, y'know, maybe people were just being friendly?
Ultimately, reading through the many, many affidavits, one is struck by an overwhelming sense that the real issue here isn't one of election fraud, so much as it's simply people being mildly criticized, shunted around in a chaotic scene, and largely misunderstanding the overall vote tabulation process as a whole. Broadly, the issues reported were with how the poll challengers were treated, rather than any actual instances of overt, deliberate fraud.
Sure, it'd be nice if everyone was polite all the time. But none of this is voter fraud. And with the president gleefully delegitimizing the election process as a whole, and millions of his supporters seemingly agreeing with him, the details of the suit are really inconsequential compared to Trump's larger goal: to delay, confuse, and ultimately exploit every aspect of the election in as many different ways as he can.