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US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Cecil Airport in Jacksonville, Florida, in September. Photo: Reuters

PoliticoMichigan certifies Joe Biden’s win as Donald Trump’s efforts to challenge US election slip

  • Decision by the state elections board was made despite the president and Republicans pushing for a delay
  • This could be the fatal blow to Trump’s legally dubious efforts to block Biden from attaining the 270 electoral votes he needs to win

This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Kyle Cheney and Zach Montellaro on on November 23, 2020.

US President Donald Trump’s push to subvert the 2020 election results took a potentially fatal hit on Monday, as election officials in Michigan certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state and more key battlegrounds prepare to formalise Biden’s wins.

Michigan’s state Board of Canvassers certified the vote with three yes votes and one abstention, a bipartisan decision affirming Biden’s victory over Trump by more than 155,000 votes.

The typically routine exercise took on new significance this year after Trump and his allies pressured the board’s two Republicans to reject certification and seek a delay to investigate “irregularities” in Detroit’s vote counting – allegations that are not supported by any evidence of wrongdoing.

Republicans have also pushed officials in other states to delay certification and have challenged the election results in court, mostly resulting in a string of legal losses.


Biden says Trump challenge to his election victory is ‘totally irresponsible’

Biden says Trump challenge to his election victory is ‘totally irresponsible’

Despite the public pressure, one of the two Republican board members joined the Democratic board members to certify the state’s election results, tossing aside the president’s attempts to slow the process down in the critical battleground state.

Republican Norm Shinkle did not vote to certify the results, instead abstaining, after indicating in interviews that he was not in favour of certification.

But Aaron Van Langevelde, a lawyer for the state legislature’s House Republican caucus, joined Democrats Jeannette Bradshaw and Julie Matuzak in certifying the results. Van Langevelde argued at the meeting that state law requires the board certify results, and it did not have the authority to demand an audit or otherwise delay the results.

“I’ve reviewed the law here. It‘s not complicated, it is very simple,” Van Langevelde said during a back-and-forth with Charlie Spies, a lawyer representing Republican John James, who lost to Senator Gary Peters and is also seeking to delay certification.

“We’re required to canvass the returns and determine the results. I’ve reviewed every section, I haven’t found anything about an audit, I’ve found nothing about the authority for us to delay certification because we’re waiting for more accurate results.”

Trump goes after Republican poll officials who won’t bend to his will

Michigan’s certification could be the fatal blow to Trump’s legally dubious efforts to block Biden from attaining the 270 electoral votes he needs to win. The president’s court cases and the political pressure he is putting on fellow Republicans to fight the election results are falling flat.

In addition to the brushback from the Michigan Republican lawmakers, Trump’s efforts to challenge the vote count or delay certification have so far fallen short in other states Biden carried, including Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia.

Trump’s bid to persuade a federal judge to toss millions of votes for Biden in Pennsylvania was met with a sharply worded rejection on Saturday. And a small but growing number of House and Senate Republicans in Washington say it is time for Trump to accept defeat and help smooth the transition to a Biden administration.

“A pressure campaign on state legislators to influence the electoral outcome is not only unprecedented but inconsistent with our democratic process,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski in a Sunday statement. “It is time to begin the full and formal transition process.”

The drama in Michigan comes a week after two Republican members of a local canvassing board – in Detroit’s Wayne County – briefly held up certification there, citing mismatches between the tabulated total and the various precincts’ poll books.

Minor miscalculations are relatively routine, and officials indicated they only affected a tiny fraction of votes, not remotely close to the margin Trump would need to reverse Biden’s large lead in the state. The two Wayne County Republicans ultimately relented, however, sending the decision to the state board.

Republican officials in other states have cast aside Trump’s calls to otherwise delay the inevitable. The most notable example is Georgia, which certified its election results on Friday despite an intense public campaign targeting Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as well as the Republican governor, Brian Kemp.

Trump’s election chaos is a gift to America’s enemies

The president and his allies – including both of Georgia’s Republican senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue – attacked Raffensperger by alleging widespread impropriety in the election without actually providing any evidence of it.

Kemp, another steadfast ally of the president, certified Georgia’s Electoral College electors for Biden on Friday as well, casting his decision as one he was legally obliged to make that would open up a path for a recount for the president’s team.

Monday is also the deadline for counties to certify their results in Pennsylvania, after which final state certification rests with Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar, an appointee of Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.

Trump’s lawsuit in the state, which was ripped apart by a federal judge, sought to block certification. The campaign is currently trying to appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.


Disbelief among Trump voters in Pennsylvania as Pence says US presidential election ‘ain’t over’

Disbelief among Trump voters in Pennsylvania as Pence says US presidential election ‘ain’t over’

Allies of the president – including Republican congressman Mike Kelly and Sean Parnell, a congressional candidate who lost to Democratic congressman Conor Lamb – are also trying to block certification in Pennsylvania state court.

Their long-shot case argues that the state’s mail voting law, which was passed by a Republican-controlled legislature and was used for elections before November, was unconstitutional.

And in Arizona, another state that Biden narrowly flipped, the Republican-controlled county board of supervisors in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county that was critical to Biden’s victory, voted unanimously on Friday to certify its results.

“No matter how you voted, this election was administered with integrity, transparency, and most importantly in accordance with Arizona state laws,” Republican chairman Clint Hickman said, rejecting claims of fraud levelled in the state by the president and his team.

Denying defeat, Trump offers fodder for world’s strongmen

Just one county in Arizona has not yet certified its results: Mohave County, which stretches along the state’s Northwest border and heavily backed the president. Its deadline to certify is by the end of Monday, with the statewide canvass planned for November 30.

Trump’s national effort to upend the election has been beset by internal strife and dissension. On Sunday, Trump’s campaign removed conservative lawyer Sidney Powell from its team.

Powell had begun to train attacks on Republican officials in Georgia for certifying Biden’s victory there, and she had also concocted a conspiracy theory alleging massive fraud by an electronic voting machine company – contending that Trump actually won the election “in a landslide”, a claim that the national Republican Party amplified.

Powell contended that both Trump and congressman Doug Collins, her preferred candidate in Georgia’s Senate special election, had been cheated. Powell’s allegations that Georgia Republicans conspired against Collins in his race against Loeffler, the appointed incumbent, rankled other Trump allies who are desperate to defend two Senate races in the state on the ballot in a January 5 run-off.

Read Politico’s story.