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Michigan's Board Of Canvassers Certified Biden's Win In A Big Loss For Trump's Desperate Bid To Overturn The Election

Trump’s effort to undermine Joe Biden’s win in Michigan faced a devastating failure when a state board took a vote that is normally uncontroversial.

Last updated on November 23, 2020, at 5:37 p.m. ET

Posted on November 23, 2020, at 4:39 p.m. ET

Jeff Kowalsky / Getty Images

People gather at the Michigan state Capitol for a rally in support of President Donald Trump on Nov. 14 in Lansing, Michigan.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers voted to certify the results of the general election with a 3–0 with one abstention, closing out President Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s desperate effort to delay the certification in a state that was won by President-elect Joe Biden.

The certification of the results allows the state to select electors who will vote in the Electoral College when it convenes on Dec. 14.

Trump lost Michigan by nearly 150,000 votes to Biden but has worked to cast doubt on the results with a barrage of disproven conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud. Those unfounded theories have riled up his base and pushed Republican officials to question the results of the election. Before the certification of the results on Monday, Norman D. Shinkle, one of the Republican members of the Board of State Canvassers, told the Washington Post he was hesitant to certify the vote and wanted an audit of the votes, citing conspiracy theories that have been floated in the weeks since Nov. 3. Throughout the first three and a half hours of the meeting, Shinkle frequently questioned speakers about the circumstances of the vote-counting, the state’s elections history, and the number of Republicans who were hired to work at polling locations in Wayne County. He was ultimately the only board member to not vote for certification.

The certification of election results by the Board of State Canvassers is traditionally a procedural vote after tallying the results of Michigan counties. But the Trump campaign’s fight to delay the results of the election has complicated the process. All of the counties in Michigan, including Wayne County, have voted to certify the results of the election at the county level.

On Monday, during the meeting of the Board of Canvassers to vote on the certification, both Jonathan Brater, the Michigan director of elections, and Heather Meingast, the state assistant attorney general, told the board that according to state election law, an audit of the results couldn’t occur until the results of the election had been certified. And they said that an audit of those results would not change the certification.

Michigan has been at the center of the Trump campaign’s national effort to delay certification in states he lost and to cast doubt on the electoral process. Trump lawyers and affiliated groups have filed lawsuits in multiple states that have alleged widespread voter fraud and election irregularities, focusing on many of the majority-Black counties that propelled Biden’s win. The Trump campaign has withdrawn many of the suits they’ve filed, and others have failed or not gained traction in the courts.

The Trump campaign’s effort to delay the certification in Michigan has focused on Wayne County, which contains Detroit, where nearly 80% of residents are Black. On Saturday, Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel and Michigan Republican Party chair Laura Cox wrote to the Michigan Board of State Canvassers urging its four members to delay the certification of the election results for 14 days and to issue a full audit of Wayne County’s general election results.

The letter from McDaniel and Cox came after Wayne County’s Board of Canvassers were briefly deadlocked last week on whether to certify the county’s election results. The two Republican members of the county’s Board of Canvassers initially refused to certify the results of the election citing conspiracy theories about voter fraud in Detroit and at one point suggested certifying the majority of the county’s results with the exception of Detroit.

The Republican members eventually voted to certify the results but attempted to rescind their votes in signed affidavits after receiving personal calls from Trump.

During a section of the meeting, Monica Palmer, the Republican chair of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, told Shinkle that she did not realize that an audit of the county’s election results couldn’t occur if the Board of State Canvassers didn’t certify the results and that she would not have voted to certify the results if she had known that during the time.

The Trump campaign has floated the idea of convincing members of the state board to vote against certifying election results in an attempt to allow the Republican-led state legislature to appoint Trump-aligned electors to the Electoral College. Trump invited the Republican leaders of the Michigan state legislature to a meeting at the White House on Friday, but Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield released a statement directly afterward affirming that they would “follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors” and suggesting they were more concerned about the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump retweeted the leader’s statement on Saturday morning saying that it was “true,” but that his campaign would show “massive and unprecedented fraud” in the state, something the leaders had said they’d seen no proof of.

In statement released after the Michigan Board of Canvassers certified the election, Jenna Ellis, a Trump campaign legal advisor, said that certification of the election results was just a "procedural step" and that the campaign planned to "continue combatting election fraud." There have been no substantiated claims of widespread voter fraud during the election.

Two other swing states Biden won, Pennsylvania and Nevada, are expected to certify Trump’s loss as early as Monday.


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.