A Georgia court briefly granted an order to prevent voting machines being wiped on Sunday, before reversing course.
A lawyer fighting to overturn Georgia's election results touted a short-lived victory on Sunday, with a federal judge briefly granting, then reversing, an order seeking to prevent voting machines being wiped.
L. Lin Wood is suing Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and several members of the state election board in an attempt to decertify the election results and have Donald Trump declared the winner.
Wood has made sweeping allegations of election fraud and, among other things, had sought an emergency order "that voting machines be seized and impounded immediately for a forensic audit by plaintiffs' experts", as he takes aim at voting machine company Dominion.
The prominent defamation lawyer – who famously represented Richard Jewell, and more recently Covington student Nick Sandmann and Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse – also requested an order that "no votes received or tabulated by machines that were not certified as required by federal and state law be counted".
On Sunday, US District Court Judge Timothy Batten granted Wood's request for a temporary injunction. "Plaintiffs contend that Union County officials have advised that they are going to wipe or reset the voting machines of all data and bring the count back to zero on Monday, November 30," Judge Batten wrote.
"To the extent Plaintiffs seek a temporary restraining order to preserve the voting machines in the State of Georgia, and to prevent any wiping of their data, their motion is granted. Defendants are ordered to maintain the status quo and are temporarily enjoined from wiping or resetting any voting machines until further order of the court."
Within hours, however, Judge Batten reversed the order after being advised by the defendants that the machines were controlled by the local counties. "Plaintiffs' request fails because the voting equipment that they seek to impound is in the possession of county election officials," he wrote.
"Any injunction the court issues would extend only to defendants and those within their control, and plaintiffs have not demonstrated that county election officials are within defendants' control. Defendants cannot serve as a proxy for local election officials against whom the relief should be sought."
Judge Batten ordered Georgia officials to "promptly produce to plaintiffs a copy of the contract between the state and Dominion". The defendants must file a response by 3pm on Wednesday, with an in-person hearing scheduled for Friday at 10am.
On Twitter, Wood expressed frustration at the ruling. "Machines are owned by (the) state and (the Secretary of State) administers state laws on elections," he wrote. "Why are Georgia officials determined to wipe these machines clean (by) resetting them?"
It's the latest setback for Wood – who is working closely with former Trump team lawyer Sidney Powell – in his bid to overturn the election which saw Joe Biden become the first Democrat to win the southern state for the first time in decades.
Biden beat Trump by 12,670 votes, or 0.25 per cent, according to results that were certified by the State of Georgia after a hand recount and "risk-limiting audit". The President and state Republicans have claimed the process was "meaningless", and are instead demanding a full audit of absentee ballot signatures.
Wood unsuccessfully attempted to stop the vote being certified, and is now arguing that the restraining order is also needed for the US Senate run-offs on January 5, where the loss of Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue could hand the majority back to Democrats.
On Twitter, however, Wood has attacked both of the Republican incumbents, accusing them of not supporting the President more forcefully. "It makes NO sense that (Ms Loeffler) and (Mr Perdue) are not demanding (Mr Kemp) order special session of (the) Georgia legislature to address fraud," he tweeted on Sunday. "Same voting machines, same mail ballots, same fraud. (November 3) fraud will be repeated in run-off."
In addition to seeking to disqualify millions of mail-in votes, Mr Wood has latched onto more nebulous allegations of electronic vote manipulation by Dominion, which the company has repeatedly rejected as baseless conspiracy theories.
Last week, Ms Powell filed her own lawsuit in Georgia, alleging election software and hardware produced by Dominion is where the "massive fraud begins". Georgia purchased Dominion products in July 2019, a year after Texas rejected the system due to its vulnerability to undetected manipulation.
Speaking to Fox News last week, Dominion spokesman Michael Steel said the alleged switching of votes from Biden to Trump could not have occurred because it was "physically impossible".
"Look, when a voter votes on a Dominion machine, they fill out a ballot on a touch screen," Steel said. "They are given a printed copy which they then give to a local election official for safekeeping. If any electronic interference had taken place, the tally reported electronically would not match the printed ballots, and in every case where we've looked at – in Georgia, all across the country – the printed ballot, the gold standard in election security, has matched the electronic tally."