The long, painful death of President Trump’s bid to steal the election is getting closer to final breathes, with another key state certifying his defeat on Monday.
Three members of the Michigan State Board of Canvassers voted in favor of certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. The fourth member abstained from the vote.
After a county board in Michigan briefly deadlocked on its own certification last week, speculation swelled around the possibility that the Republican members of the state canvassing board would refuse to vote in favor of certification. Doing so would have delayed the next steps of the formal process of Biden being awarded Michigan’s presidential electoral votes and would have given Trump more time to spread disinformation about the integrity of his defeat.
The Republican state board member who abstained from the vote, Norman Shinkle, appeared likely to vote against certification going into Monday’s meeting. The inclinations of the other GOP canvasser, vice chair Aaron Van Langevelde, weren’t known.
But early on in Monday’s proceedings, Van Langevelde hinted he was likely to vote in favor of certification, as he noted the the board’s “duty” to certify based on the results before it was “very clear.”
Nonetheless, Van Langevelde said he wanted to hear from the public commenters who had lined up to weigh in on the question before he voted on the motion to certify.
His questions of those witnesses — which included local clerks as well as former state-level election officials and board members — appeared designed to make the point that the canvassing board did not have the authority to do anything but certify at this point.
“We’re not a court here, we don’t have judicial power, or we don’t have the authority to conduct a trial here on whether or not election fraud occurred,” he said
He pushed back directly on Republican officials and lawyers who testified that the board could hold off certifying so that “irregularities” could be investigated.
Shinkle, however, seemed more open to the idea that something could be gained by delaying the vote. He floated conspiracy theories about the administration of the election as he questioned local officials from the largely black cities that the Trump allies have targeted with its allegations.
As multiple witnesses pointed out, state law does not allow for any audits prior to certification. Recount requests also cannot be filed until after certification.
Van Langevelde’s refusal to delay the certification is a major blow to the pressure campaign Trumpworld has put on state and local officials in the hope of staving off a formal validation of Biden’s win.
After Republicans on the canvassing board for Wayne County — which is home to Detroit — waffled on certifying the results there, Trump called one of those canvassers himself, the Detroit Free Press reported. She and the other Republican then filed affidavits to try to “rescind” their certification votes.
On Friday, Trump hosted the top Republicans in Michigan’s statehouse in what appeared to be another attempt to arm twist officials in the hope they could find a way to give him the state’s electors.
After the meeting, the legislators put out a statement making clear they had no intention of subverting the votes of the people in their state. They said that they had used the meeting to press for federal assistance with the state’s COVID-19 response.
Things aren’t going much better elsewhere in the country for Trump. Georgia certified its results over the weekend and is now heading into a recount that will affirm Biden’s Peach State win for a third time. A top election official said on a press call Monday that a request by Trump’s allies that the state review signature matching in its coming recount would not be feasible or compatible with state law.
The campaign’s legal team’s attempt to use a federal lawsuit to block certification of the Pennsylvania results has been ham-handed at best. The campaign’s appeal of a federal judge’s Saturday order dismissing the case make confusing and contradicting requests of what it’s seeking from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.