(CNN) – The Michigan State Board of Canvassers is meeting to vote on certifying the state’s election results, a step that would formally grant President-elect Joe Biden the state’s 16 electoral votes.
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The certification is another blow to President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results through legal challenges that have been dismissed in key states.
While one of the two Republicans on the four-member canvassing board is expected to vote against certifying the state’s election results, the second Republican signaled at the start of Monday’s meeting he would likely vote in favor, allowing the election results to be certified.
When Democratic board member Julie Matuzak brought a motion to the floor to certify the election results, Republican board member Aaron Van Langevelde said he wanted to hear public comments before voting.
Van Langevelde has not signaled how he plans to vote, but he suggested that he will vote to certify. “I think we are pretty limited today. I think we have a duty to do this,” he said.
As the board discussed the question of certification, Van Langevelde noted that the board had no legal authority to investigate allegations of voter fraud.
The other Republican on the board, Norman Shinkle, is expected to vote no. Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell, a Republican, said that he spoke days ago with Shinkle, who indicated he would vote against certifying the election results until an investigation is completed — even though there is no evidence of fraud or malfeasance that would necessitate such a move.
Shinkle asked Chris Thomas, who served as a senior adviser to the Detroit city clerk and has built a decades-long career serving both Republican and Democratic secretaries of state in Michigan, under what circumstances the board can delay certification.
Thomas said, “If you have the completed returns, I don’t think you can adjourn,” and that the only option the board has now is to certify the results. All counties in Michigan have certified their results.
Shinkle rejected Thomas’ characterization that the election ran smoothly. “Smoothly is not accurate at all,” Shinkle said.READ MORE: Michigan Hospitals Postponing Elective Surgeries Following COVID-19 Surge
If Van Langevelde were to join Shinkle in voting against certification, a split 2-2 vote would thrust the state into uncharted legal territory. Republican Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield said Sunday if there is a 2-2 vote, “it would then go to the Michigan Supreme Court to determine what their response would be, what their order would be.”
“If they didn’t have an order that it be certified, well now we have a constitutional crisis in the state of Michigan. It’s never occurred before,” Chatfield said during an interview on Fox News.
If the canvassing board were to vote against certifying the results, the case would go to the state court of appeals, and then to the state Supreme Court. The state Supreme Court would be expected to demand the board certify the results and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, could replace any of the board members.
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 claim without evidence widespread voter fraud and a “rigged election.”
Trump met with Republican Michigan state lawmakers at the White House last week and state Republican leadership, including Chatfield, said in a statement “we have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election.” The President also called two Republican canvass board members from Wayne County to offer his support, after they went back and forth on voting to certify the election results from their county. The did vote to certify the results but later tried to walk back their votes with affidavits stating that they wanted to “rescind” their votes, though Michigan Secretary of State spokeswoman Tracy Wimmer told CNN no legal mechanism exists from them to do so.
The Republican National Committee and Michigan Republican Party sent a letter to the board of canvassers on Saturday asking them to delay certification for 14 days. They also asked for them to wait for an audit of the election results in Wayne County, the largest county in the state that includes Detroit — even though state law doesn’t allow that.
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