Michigan's Board of State Canvassers meets to certify Biden's win Monday: What you should know

Tomorrow, Michigan's State Canvassing Board meets to certify the election in the state, which Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won by over 154,000 votes over Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Ordinarily, this would be an uneventful process, as all 83 of Michigan's counties have certified their vote counts, and the state certification is a ministerial process to simply make sure the numbers add up and certify the count.

But this is no ordinary time. Donald Trump and his campaign has been pushing conspiracy theories and fraud allegations that have been thrown out of Court again and again. Incapable of shame, the Michigan GOP and the RNC are pressuring the Republican members of the Canvassing Board to adjourn the meeting rather certify the vote and demand an audit instead, which, cannot happen prior to certification under Michigan law.

So the eyes of the country needs to be on Michigan tomorrow to make sure Trump's coup fails again.

The details (full notice and agenda is available here):

  • Time: Monday, November 23, 1:00 pm ET (10 am PT)
  • Place: Virtual
  • Members: Chair: Jeannette Bradshaw (D), Vice-Chair: Aaron Van Langevelde (R), Norman D. Shinkle (R), Julie Matuzak (D)

Both Republicans on the Board are members of the Michigan Bar, and as such, their contact information is public.

Watch live:

The Bureau of Elections in Michigan submitted a detailed recommendation that the votes be certified, and the Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has already announced a planned, post-certification audit. The Bureau of Elections also said that there is no foul play, and that the counts, when compared to the results in 2016, tend to disprove Trump's argument that there was fraud to help Biden, since Trump actually marginally improved his percentages in deep-blue areas, including Wayne County.

There is no legal reason to stall the certification, nor does the Board have the legal authority to stall it or demand any procedure prior to certifying. Their job is purely administrative.

But what happens if they refuse to certify anyway?

First, it should be noted that there is no provision in Michigan law that ever puts the assignment of electors in the hands of the state legislature after an election. In fact, there is no provision in Michigan law to allow anyone other than the winner of the popular vote to get the state's presidential electors at all, as Michigan's Republican legislative leaders reiterated in a statement after meeting Trump at the White House.

One route Republicans may wish to pursue was spilled by Monica Palmer, the Republican chair of the Wayne County Canvassing Board, which would be to certify everything but Detroit (or in the case of the state, everything but Wayne County). If the state were to simply erase the votes of the citizens of its largest county, Trump would win the remaining votes.

Not only is this racist and outrageous, it is also a pipe dream. There is absolutely no way the two Democratic members of the state board will allow such malarkey.

So if the Republicans still refuse to certify, does Michigan simply get left out of the electoral college?

It does not. As mentioned before, the duties of the state Canvassing Board is purely ministerial, and they don't, in fact, have a choice in the matter unless they can prove someone added the numbers wrong. Their refusal to do so would be considered neglect of duty at the minimum, and likely corruption. Not only can and will a Michigan court order them to their job in the event they refuse at first, Michigan law uniquely allows the governor - in this case, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat - to remove or suspend officers of the state for neglecting their duties. To my untrained, non-lawyer eye, it appears that all Whitmer would have to do is suspend one Republican member, which would leave the vote as a 2-1, and fulfill the certification requirement that such a vote can only take place when at least one member from each party is present.

Could the Republican members just refuse to show up and deny that last requirement, keeping the board from certifying? Not remotely. When more than one member is absent, Michigan law allows the governor to fill the position.

All of this is not to even mention the charges that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who is already exploring what criminal charges Michigan officials expose themselves to for conspiring with the Trump campaign, can do.

Donald Trump's thunder is poised to end with a whimper in Michigan, but just in case, keep watch.

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