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Michigan certifies Biden win despite Trump’s GOP overtures

LANSING (AP) — Michigan election officials on Monday certified Democrat Joe Biden’s 154,000-vote victory in the state amid President Donald Trump’s brazen attempts to subvert the results of the election.

The Board of State Canvassers, which has two Republicans and two Democrats, confirmed the results on a 3-0 vote with one abstention. Allies of Trump and losing GOP Senate candidate John James had urged the panel to delay voting for two weeks to audit votes in heavily Democratic Wayne County, home to Detroit.

The move is another setback in Trump’s efforts to use unconventional means to undermine the results of the Nov. 3 election and comes even after he made direct overtures to Republican officials in the state by inviting them to the White House last week.

Under Michigan law, Biden claims all 16 electoral votes. Biden won by 2.8 percentage points — a larger margin than in other states where Trump is contesting the results like Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Some Trump allies had expressed hope that state lawmakers could intervene in selecting Republican electors in states that do not certify. That longshot bid is no longer possible in Michigan.

Trump’s efforts to stave off the inevitable — formal recognition of his defeat — faced increasingly stiff resistance from the courts and fellow Republicans with just three weeks to go until the Electoral College meets to certify Biden’s victory. Time and again, Trump’s challenges and baseless allegations of widespread conspiracy and fraud have been met with rejection as states move forward with confirming their results.

Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers, which has two Republicans and two Democrats, certified the results despite calls by Trump and allies to the GOP members to block the vote to allow for an audit of ballots in heavily Democratic Wayne County, home to Detroit, where Trump has claimed without evidence that he was the victim of fraud.

“The board’s duty today is very clear,” said Aaron Van Langevelde, the Republican vice chair. “We have a duty to certify this election based on these returns. That is very clear. We are limited to these returns. I’m not going to argue that we’re not.”

Mary Ellen Gurewitz, an attorney for the state Democratic Party, told the canvassers that attacks on the election results “are part of a racist campaign, directed by soon-to-be former President Trump, to disparage the cities in this country with large Black populations, including Detroit, Philadelphia and Milwaukee.”

“It sometimes feels like officials are attempting to tear up my ballot right in front of me by stalling and recounting until they find a way to change the results,” said Wendy Gronbeck, a resident of Douglas. “I’ve been a voter for over 50 years, and I’ve never had to think about whether canvassers will certify an election.”

Biden crushed the president by more than 330,000 votes in Wayne County, where two local GOP canvassers who certified the results unsuccessfully tried to reverse course last week after being called by Trump. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, has said an audit must wait until after statewide certification because only then would officials have legal access to documentation needed to conduct such a review.

Michigan’s elections bureau has recommended that the Nov. 3 results be certified.

Norm Eisen, a constitutional law expert and former counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, said there was no legal basis to do anything other than certify the election.

“That is the clear mandate of state law,” he said. Eisen dismissed various claims for why a delay might be necessary, including the need for an audit or time to investigate so-called “out of balance” precincts.

“The reasons that they have advanced for doing anything other than (certify) is totally spurious. They carry no legal or factual weight whatsoever under the law,” Eisen added.

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