Michigan election board votes to certify Biden win, dealing blow to Trump effort

Dartunorro Clark and Marianna Sotomayor

The Michigan State Board of Canvassers voted Monday to certify the results of the state's presidential election, in which President-elect Joe Biden prevailed, a major blow to President Donald Trump's withering effort to contest the outcome.

The two Democrats on the four-member board, Jeannette Bradshaw and Julie Matuzak, were joined by one of its two Republicans, Aaron Van Langevelde, to vote in favor of certification. The other Republican board member, Norman Shinkle, abstained.

NBC News and other major news organizations have projected Biden as the winner in Michigan, where he leads Trump by over 150,000 votes.

Trump's allies and lawyers have called for state legislatures, including Michigan's, to name Trump electors in states won by Biden. They have also made unfounded claims about irregularities and discrepancies in the vote tallies, singling out Wayne County, which includes Detroit and its large Black population.

Shortly before the vote, Shinkle said he was abstaining because of concerns about how the election was administered and about whether there were enough Republican poll watchers in areas such as Detroit.

"I do not plan on voting for certification. I believe Wayne County's certification needs to be looked at," Shinkle said. Democratic members of the committee and county clerks who testified stressed, however, that there were no unusual irregularities in the election.

Trump invited Republican state lawmakers from Michigan — state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield — to the White House last week. Critics saw the meeting as an attempt to influence the certification process, but the lawmakers said afterward that they were not "made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan."

Top Democrats in the state commended the certification.

"Democracy has prevailed," Michigan's secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, tweeted Monday. "Today's vote of the State Board of Canvassers' to certify Michigan's November election confirms the truth: the election was fair and secure, and the results accurately reflect the will of the voters."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, also a Democrat, said in a statement: "I commend the three members of the State Board of Canvassers who voted to follow the law and certify the 2020 election results today. The people of Michigan have spoken."

Biden's team welcomed the news in a statement, calling it a firm reminder of the "plain facts."

"President-elect Joe Biden resoundingly won the state of Michigan by more than 150,000 votes — 14 times the margin of Donald Trump in 2016," said Ben Halle, a Biden spokesperson. "We thank the State of Michigan for its support, and look forward to receiving its 16 electoral votes."

The Trump campaign dismissed the certification as "a procedural step."

"We are going to continue combatting election fraud around the country as we fight to count all the legal votes," it said. "Americans must be assured that the final results are fair and legitimate."

Pennsylvania was expected to certify its election results Monday, but a few counties in the state reported delays. The Trump campaign, however, said it will continue its sputtering legal fight there. Over the weekend, the campaign distanced itself from Sidney Powell, one of the lawyers involved in the effort, after she made false allegations about voter fraud in an interview with Newsmax.