Republicans increased pressure Sunday on the Board of State Canvassers to delay certification of Michigan’s vote, a legally questionable strategy that some believe will trigger an instant court fight.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James on Sunday tweeted a video message calling on canvassers to delay by as much as two weeks for an audit of results. And Republican state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, fresh from a Friday trip to the White House, suggested the board may take the “full time allowed” and Democrats pushed for a Monday vote.
The board of canvassers, made up of two Republicans and two Democrats, is to meet at 1 p.m. Monday, with many eyes of the nation upon them, to determine the winners of the Nov. 3 elections in Michigan. Although their decision carries much weight, they have few options but to certify, election law experts suggest.
Unofficial returns already certified by local officials in all 83 Michigan counties show Democrat Joe Biden won 154,188 more votes than President Donald Trump. Those results aren’t official until canvassers certify them, which will determines for which candidate Michigan’s 16 Electoral College votes will be cast on Dec. 14.
“If the Secretary of State places the county returns before the board, and no information is missing, the board has an obligation to certify. It has no other duties to exercise,” said Steve Liedel, an election law specialist for Dykema Gossett law firm in Lansing who served as former chief legal counsel to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s transition team.
If the canvassers don’t certify on Monday, an action could be filed in court on the same day to compel them to do so, Liedel said, noting that the director of elections has already recommended certification after receiving complete, certified returns from all counties.
The four-member board has been a focus of intense attention in recent days as Trump aides, in press conferences, on television and in lawsuits, have made unsupported claims of election fraud in attempts to block certification of the results. It’s among pressures in several states to overturn results.
The pressures on the board could lead to one of three likely scenarios: Certification, a delay, or a 2-2 deadlock on the board. The two latter scenarios could result in court fights designed to force certification.
The Michigan Democratic Party on Sunday in a letter requested the board “carry out your responsibility” and certify the Nov. 3 election results.
James, who lost to U.S. Sen. Gary Peters by 92,337 votes, said an audit was unlikely to change the outcome of his race, but it was important to identify and fix flaws in Michigan’s election process.
Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield on Sunday raised the possibility of a “constitutional crisis” if the board splits on Monday. His comments come two days after he, Shirkey and other Michigan Republicans met with Trump at the White House, amid much scrutiny in the wake of Trump’s challenges to results in several states.
“It would then go to the Michigan Supreme Court to determine what their response would be, what their order would be,” said Chatfield, R-Levering, on “Fox & Friends.” “If…