One of the two Republican members of the Michigan state canvassing board, Aaron Van Langevelde, joined the two Democrats in voting and certifying the election results, after it was unclear how he would vote before the meeting.
The question of certifying Michigan’s election results took center stage amid dubious allegations of election fraud from the Trump campaign and efforts in the courts to delay certification and overturn the results in several key states that voted for Biden. As the Michigan board debated on Monday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected the Trump campaign’s effort to block the counting of certain absentee ballots, clearing the way for votes to be certified in several counties, including Philadelphia.
At Monday’s meeting, Van Langevelde said that he believed he was required to certify the vote under state law, regardless of whether he believed there should be an audit of Wayne County’s election results. He said he supported an audit, but that didn’t mean the board should wait to certify the election first.
“We must not try to exercise power that we do not have,” he said.
The other Republican on the board, Norman Shinkle, abstained. He argued that the board should not certify the election results until an investigation into voting in Wayne County, the state’s largest, which includes Detroit, is completed. Shinkle asked the Republican-led Michigan legislature to conduct a review of the 2020 election.
Earlier this month, Republican members of the Wayne County canvassing board initially voted against the certification, before voting in favor after a public uproar. Members of the Republican Party board received a call from Trump that night, and the next day they submitted affidavits seeking to rescind their votes, which they were unable to do so.
That diverted attention to the state canvassing board, which also has two Republican members and two Democrats. Before the vote, the board heard from election officials such as local clerks, campaign attorneys, and other experts. Van Langevelde signaled his point of view early on, discussing the role of the board with an attorney for Republican Senate candidate John James, who argued that the canvassing board could adjourn the session and wait for the results of an audit before certifying. the results.
Mr. Van Langevelde disagreed. “I had a pretty good opportunity to look at the law. There is nothing in the law that gives me the authority to request an audit,” he said.
Mr. Shinkle came to a different conclusion. He asked Chris Thomas, who served as a senior advisor to the Detroit city clerk and has built a decades-long career serving Republican and Democratic secretaries of state in Michigan, under what circumstances the board can delay certification.
Mr. Thomas said, “If you have the full statements, I don’t think you can suspend the session,” and that the only option the board has now is to certify the results. All Michigan counties have certified their results.
Shinkle rejected Thomas’s characterization that the election went smoothly. “Gently not at all accurate,” Shinkle said.
Shinkle sought at the meeting to ask questions of Detroit City Secretary Janice Winfrey, who was initially not scheduled to speak but appeared on video, like other witnesses, after a brief recess. Shinkle asked if the city had hired enough Republican poll workers for the elections as required by state law, claiming that Republicans who tried to work at the polls were denied.
Winfrey responded that the city had hired as many Republicans as it could, but those who applied too late were not allowed to accept the job.
Republican and Democratic state and local officials appeared on video to speak at the meeting. When a Republican repeated the debunked conspiracy theories about the vote count, one of the members of the Democratic board asked if the allegations had been presented to the attorney general, because the canvassing board could not investigate those claims.
The Trump campaign has tried to interfere with the certification process, and Trump has courted Michigan officials as he and attorney Rudy Giuliani continue to allege widespread voter fraud and a “rigged election” without evidence.
Trump met with Republican lawmakers from Michigan state at the White House last week and Republican state leaders, including Chatfield, said in a statement that “we have not yet learned of any information that changes the outcome of the election.”
The Republican National Committee and the Michigan Republican Party sent a letter to the canvassing board on Saturday asking them to delay certification for 14 days. They were also asked to wait for an audit of the election results in Wayne County, the largest county in the state that includes Detroit, although state law does not allow it.