Bill Bailey is suing the county over the November 2020 election results, and is asking to conduct his own audit of those results. The case has gained national attention for its allegations of fraud and the implications of impacting the presidential election. Traditionally a Republican area, Antrim County results initially showed Joe Biden winning the race. But the clerk admitted human error and the results for the county were corrected, swaying to Donald Trump.
But Bailey actually filed suit concerned with a Central Lake village marijuana proposal – because three ballots were spoiled after they were damaged in a close recount.
Bailey’s attorney Matthew DePerno filed for additional discovery in the case, asking to subpoena the townships of the county.
Peter Wendling is the Attorney for Central Lake Township, who argues the townships should not be subject to subpoenas. “It still will not make a difference as far as changing the outcome of the election. Or the fact that there was a recount done properly and that this election has been certified. I see no basis for this discovery. It’s overly burdensome, it’s unnecessary.”
DePerno says the subpoenas are “critical” to their case. “We absolutely have to be able to go in and look at the township records, look at the machines, look at their ballots. It’s critical to the case.”
Attorneys for each of the townships in Antrim County joined in the video court hearing. Wendling also argues that six months after the election is too long to wait – and the judge agreed. 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer says, “There’s no doubt in my mind that if Mr. Bailey and Mr. DePerno believed there was a problem, and issue that could be developed through discovery in the other townships, that would have come in a timely way, given that the case has been going on since November/December of 2020.”
Bailey’s team is also arguing he should have the right to audit the election results. DePerno says, “In no event has plaintiff been granted the relief of an audit. All we’ve seen so far is a hand recount conducted by the SOS on December 17th. “
The state says an audit was conducted. Assistant Attorney General Erik Grill is representing the Secretary of State’s Office. “The Secretary of State herself conducted an audit of statewide election results. And that is what Mr. Bailey is entitled to.”
But the argument before the court is whether that’s an “official audit”, which the plaintiff says should consist of training election workers, reviewing all races on the ballot, and reviewing individual ballots. DePerno says, “We haven’t inspected absentee ballots, we haven’t inspected envelopes that come with absentee ballots, we haven’t looked at signatures, we haven’t looked at the type of paper that was used in these ballots. We haven’t looked at how these absentee ballots were folded. We haven’t looked at any of that stuff to actually conduct a real audit.”
Grill responded, “That’s not what the constitution calls for. It calls for results of the statewide elections, not local election.”
DePerno also doubled-down on the allegations of fraud, and says if the case continues they can prove it. “There’s so many layers and layers as to how this fraud occurred, what happened in Antrim County. And we now can definitively show the court how the fraud occurred.”
Meanwhile the County Attorney and the Secretary of State are asking the judge to dismiss the case. Several attorneys, including Wendling, argued that what Bailey asked for in his original complaint has already been addressed by the court. “Most of the relief has already been granted to the plaintiff here… there was a manual recount. The election results were done and accuracy and integrity of the election has been upheld.”
The state argues, through Grill, that the mechanism for addressing a complaint is to request a recount or special election for cause. “The time for a special election to be taken in response to a mechanical defect is long since passed. Similarly the election has already been certified and the time for a recount is long since passed. No candidate or committee requested a recount in Antrim County.”
The plaintiff also filed an emergency motion to amend the complaint, which the judge did not hear on Monday. Additional action on the cases remains scheduled for next week. In the meantime the judge now says he plans to come back with a decision whether to dismiss the case next week Tuesday.