John James, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate for Michigan, submitted a request to the Michigan State Board of Canvassers on Nov. 20, asking the board to take an additional two weeks to fully audit the election results by Dec. 7, before certifying the result.
James contests the results of his race against Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) in the Nov. 3 election and hasn’t conceded yet. The unofficial result shows that James is behind Peters by around 92,000 votes or a gap of about 1.7 percent.
The Michigan State Board of Canvassers will meet on Monday, Nov. 23 to decide whether to certify the results of the election or seek more time to review the results.
“I submit this request because I am interested in the truth and protecting the integrity of our elections,” James said in his statement.
“Sometimes the truth takes time to surface, and it’s rarely easy to get to. Time is the most valuable asset we have at this stage and I ask that we take all the time reasonable and allowed—not to undermine our elections—but to improve them and boost public confidence in the results of the election.”
James mentioned there were widespread reports of irregularities and abnormalities in the TCF Center on the night of the election, such as poll challengers and poll workers reported feeling harassed and unable to do their jobs.
“Despite [Wayne County staff’s] efforts, at the end of the day, just over 70 [percent] of Detroit absent vote counting boards did not balance.” James added, “I do not believe that 30 [percent] accuracy is acceptable.”
Out of balance vote counts means that the number of ballots counted doesn’t match the number of ballots tracked in the precinct poll books.
Having balanced precincts is particularly important in Michigan because precincts whose poll books don’t match with ballots can’t be recounted according to state law, the Detroit News reported.
“A 30 [percent] success rate (with 70 [percent] of precincts out of balance) wouldn’t have been accepted for elections in Iraq, and the people of Detroit, and Michigan, shouldn’t accept it either.” Charles Spies, attorney to the John James For Senate campaign said in the request.
James is a combat veteran and participated in multiple tours of duty in Iraq as an Apache pilot.
Spies incorporated some affidavits in the request, alleging irregularities occurred at each step in the process—from absentee ballot storage in anticipation of the election, to the sealing of the ballot boxes on November 5, at the TCF Center in Detroit, where all absentee ballots for the City of Detroit were counted.
“Ballots from Detroit were not processed or counted in accordance with the statutorily mandated process designed by the legislature to prevent malfeasance,” said Spies.
Spies also pointed out that a comprehensive audit in Wayne County was agreed upon by the bi-partisan Wayne County Board of Canvassers, despite the certification controversy that whether two Republican board members’ rescinding their votes render it inoperative or not. Spies requested that the State Board of Canvassers should conduct a complete, full audit prior to the certification, not an incomplete audit after certification as suggested by the State Secretary Jocelyn Benson.
Republicans have secured 50 seats in Senate so far. If James could win back the seat, Republicans would have already maintained the majority in Senate, no matter whether the Democrats win the other two seats in Georgia or not. Georgia will have a runoff election on Jan. 5 due to no candidate received votes over 50 percent.
James launched his legal defense fund last week to fight for the election.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.