A federal judge denied a lawsuit by a controversial Michigan sheriff alleging election fraud and seeking to preserve voting records.
Robert Jonker, chief U.S. district judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, denied the motion on Monday in a three-page order after Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf filed the lawsuit alongside other plaintiffs on Sunday, arguing against a memo from Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to county clerks that directed them to delete electronic poll book software and associated files in most cases.
The Tuesday memo, which was meant to protect voter records and is standard practice, according to the Detroit Free Press, said the data should be erased “unless a petition for recount has been filed and the recount has not been completed, a post-election audit is planned but has not yet been completed, or the deletion of the data has been stayed by an order of the court or the Secretary of State.”
Leaf and the plaintiffs in the case argue that the records should be preserved because Michigan’s planned audit “will simply recount potentially fraudulent, or illegal ballots, and will not reveal the systematic attempts at mass fraud throughout the State of Michigan and United States of America.”
Jonker said the plaintiffs “fell far short” of the standards for the court to issue them a temporary restraining order without notice.
“Plaintiffs’ 3 Applications invite the Court to make speculative leaps towards a hazy and nebulous inference that there has been numerous instances of election fraud and that Defendants are destroying the evidence. There is simply nothing of record to infer as much, much less conclude that irreparable injury will occur before the defendants can be heard,” Jonker, an appointee of President George W. Bush, wrote in the order.
“The Applications themselves were filed at a late hour, six days after the memorandum was issued, and the most recent having been filed on the same day the alleged destruction was to have been completed,” the judge added.
Leaf faced scrutiny and calls for his resignation earlier this year for remarks that he made in the wake of more than a dozen men being charged for allegedly plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer amid outrage over her strict coronavirus restrictions. Leaf suggested that the men may have been trying to make a citizen’s arrest.
“A lot of people are angry with the governor, and they want her arrested,” Leaf told Fox 17 News at the time. “So were they trying to arrest, or was it a kidnap attempt? Because you can still, in Michigan, if it's a felony, you can make a felony arrest.”
Leaf later told MLive that he was not trying to sympathize with those who were charged with the alleged plot.
The Washington Examiner reached out to Leaf on Monday evening about Jonker’s denial of the motion but did not immediately receive a response.
Other efforts to change the outcome of the election in Michigan have been unsuccessful at both the state and federal levels. In November, the Trump campaign withdrew its federal lawsuit in the Wolverine State, and on Monday, a federal judge tossed a Republican-led effort to decertify Michigan's election results, which tilted in President-elect Joe Biden's favor.
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