It’s Trump’s last stand at Electoral College count. All eyes are on Michigan

Michigan lawmakers are joining the fight to keep Donald Trump in office.Trump told a crowd this week that he hopes that Mike Pence “comes through for us.” (Shutterstock)

Michigan likely will be in the forefront of a last-gasp, doomed effort on Wednesday to overturn the results of the Electoral College and keep President Donald Trump in office.

High drama, big stakes and a long day are expected when the newly sworn-in 117th Congress meets in Washington and receives the nation’s Electoral College votes to make Democrat President-elect Joe Biden’s election official.

Michigan is among a handful of states whose results likely will be challenged based on Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. That’s turned a ceremonial procedure into a loyalty test for Republicans that experts say threatens the underpinnings of American democracy.

Congress has the right to object to results because of the vague, 134-year-old Electoral Count Act, and more than 140 Republicans have announced plans to do so, including three from Michigan:  Lisa McClain of Bruce Township, Jack Bergman of Watersmeet and Tim Walberg of Tipton. 

Late Tuesday, 11 Michigan Republican senators sent a letter to Congress and Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday seeking “an objective and transparent investigation into credible accusations of misconduct in the 2020 election.” 

“We do not seek to overturn the will of the people. However it is vital for the citizenry at large to be confident the election results were accurate and free of misconduct, criminal or otherwise,” read the letter from Sens. John Bizon, Tom Barrett, Kim LaSata, Roger Victory, Dale Zorn, Lana Theis, Kevin Daley, Dan Lauwers, Curt Vanderwall, Rick Outman and Jim Runestad.

State House Republicans were also planning to make a similar request to Pence, said state Rep. Matt Maddock, R-Milford. 

Despite Trump’s insistence, no evidence of fraud has emerged, numerous courts have dismissed lawsuits from his backers and Republicans are divided on efforts to derail Biden’s victory.

Earlier Tuesday, U.S. Reps. John Moolenaar of Midland and Peter Meijer of Grand Rapids joined fellow GOP Reps. Bill Huizenga of Zeeland and Fred Upton of St. Joseph in opposing the objections. 

“To unconstitutionally insert Congress into the center of the presidential election process . . . would amount to stealing power from the people and the states,” said a letter signed by Meijer, R-Grand Rapids, and 11 other GOP lawmakers.

The challenges are almost certainly futile, since a majority in both chambers is necessary to overturn the results, the House is controlled by Democrats and Senate Republicans are divided.

Here’s a look at how the likely lengthy process will occur and what members can and can’t do during the joint session. 

What will happen? 

  • At 1 p.m., the Senate and the House of Representatives will convene in the House Chamber, where pages, or nonpartisan federal employees, will carry in ceremonial mahogany boxes containing sealed certificates of each state’s votes. 

  • According to the 12th Amendment, Pence as president of the Senate will preside over the meeting and open certificates of electoral votes from each state in alphabetical order and present them to four tellers – a Republican and a Democrat from each chamber of Congress – who will count the votes. 

  • During this time, representatives can object to a state’s slate of electors. But they must do so in writing and be joined by a senator. An explanation for the objection is not required, although one is usually provided. 

  • If a member from both chambers signs onto the objection, the joint session is suspended for both chambers to consider the challenge. 

How do objections work? 

  • It’s not uncommon for representatives to object. Several Democrats did so in the January 2017 joint session, objecting to Trump’s win. But it’s highly unusual for a senator to join a representative in their challenge. 

  • If they do, both chambers must meet separately to debate the objections for up to two hours per state objection, said Brendan Beery, a constitutional law professor at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. This could lead to hours of heated deliberation, Beery said. 

How long will it take to accept results? 

  • Typically, less than a half an hour. Wednesday? It could stretch for several hours, as Michigan is one of six states Trump has contested, along with Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

  • If a single objection is filed on each and debated for the full two hours, that’s at least 12 hours. If the GOP submits multiple challenges per state, that would further prolong the process.

  • More likely, House and Senate leaders would limit debate, experts said.

  • Afterward, both the Senate and the House must approve or reject the state’s slate of electors by a simple majority. 

  • If the chambers disagree, it’s “governor's veto,” meaning Congress must abide by the electors appointed by the state’s governor, as long as they were selected before the safe harbor deadline of Dec. 8 – as was the case for all battleground states except Wisconsin. 

What’s up with this law?

  • The Electoral Count Act of 1887, which sets the guidelines for this procedure, followed a contested presidential election in 1876 between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes, when several states sent competing slates of electors to Congress. The Legislature was unable to resolve the conflict for weeks.

  • The act attempted to provide guidance on contested electors by establishing a safe harbor deadline that ensured Congress counts votes from states that have certified elections before a Dec. 8 date.  

  • But the law uses vague language that election scholars have struggled to make sense of a century after its enactment. 

Does it matter?

Republicans don’t have the votes necessary to overturn the election in Congress, where several GOP members have acknowledged Biden’s win and opposed efforts to undermine it, experts said. 

What can Pence do? 

During a Monday rally in Georgia, Trump told a crowd that he hopes that Mike Pence “comes through for us.” 

In a tweet on Monday, Trump claimed “the Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.”

The tweet is categorically false, according to legal experts. 

Pence’s role during the meeting is “purely ceremonial,” said Jonathan Diaz, legal counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan voting rights group based in Washington, D.C. 

“He has no authority to withhold a validly cast slate of electoral votes or to present an illegitimate slate of alternative electors, he said. “He doesn’t even do the counting himself—he simply announces the results.”

At the end of the session, it will be up to Pence to announce Democrat Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. 

Failure to do so constitutes a violation of federal law which would wind up in federal court, said Beery, the constitutional law professor. 

Biden’s legal team would demand a writ of mandamus —  an order to a government official to carry out an act that the official has a clear legal duty to perform — along with a declaratory judgement stating that Biden won the Electoral College and is the next president. 

“So far the Supreme Court has tried to stay away from this election — as far away as they can,” said Beery. “But where there is a clear violation, they will have to intervene.” 

This article is made possible through Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access. This article is available for reprint under the terms of Votebeat’s republishing policy.

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Wed, 01/06/2021 - 8:32am

The MI AG needs to charge them three republicans from the state who are voting to over turn our votes!!!

GOP Treason
Wed, 01/06/2021 - 8:40am

Isn't Dale Zorn the Republican who wore a mask with the confederate flag during a legislative session at the Michigan Capitol?

Just sayin'
Wed, 01/06/2021 - 9:22am

Jack Bergman has to think about his legislative future if he wants to be reelected! He might want to start spray tanning like his mentor Trump. When I saw his photo, I thought he was at least 20 years older than his actual age. I guess the swamp has a way of aging people prematurely.

Wed, 01/06/2021 - 9:45am

It's not fraud that is at stake here, but rather the validity of both the Federal Constitution and the Constitution of Michigan. The Federal Constitution leaves the method of choosing electors up to the individual states, and says that the Legislatures of each state define how the electors are chosen. It could be by vote, it could be by choosing straws or flipping a coin, or it could even be by which party runs fastest in the 100 yard dash, but no matter the method, it must be defined by the Legislature. The Michigan claim is that someone outside the legislature changed the rules. If so, that violated the Constitution. A person in Pennsylvania, not the legislature, changed the number of days after the election that absentee or mail in votes could be received and counted, contrary to the PA Constitution and not put in place by the legislature. Justice Alito warned PA to segregate all ballots received after the legislated time in which ballots could be received. Again, acceptance and counting of those ballots were a violation of the State Constitution.

We as a country have to decide if our Constitutions are the laws of the land, or just pieces of parchment in a museum. And for those that do not agree with he Constitutions, the founding fathers put in place a mechanism to amend how Consitutions.

AG investigate RICO
Wed, 01/06/2021 - 12:19pm

Exactly, people like you have to stop crapping on our Constitutions, both federal and state.

Wed, 01/06/2021 - 12:25pm

Biden still wins with or without Pennsylvania. Oh and congratulations to Senators Elect Warnock and Ossoff! Good bye and good riddance to Moscow Mitch! America won, Russia lost.

GOP denial fatigue
Wed, 01/06/2021 - 12:29pm

Legislators pass laws, not rules. Executives promulgate rules based on the laws. Quit trying to micromanage. You GOP legislators spend more time here in the comment section of Bridge than you do at work!

Cheeto Time's Up
Wed, 01/06/2021 - 10:43am

Trump called his coup to DC where they are spreading the virus and rioting. Meanwhile e remains silent about his alleged law and order agenda. Is he any different from any other dictator? So much to correct in the legislature when he is finally gone. We have to close all the loopholes so we don't have another person elected like Trump, whether that's a Republican, a Democrat, another Trumpist, or something else that will casually destroy our country.

Wed, 01/06/2021 - 12:03pm

And just how did Trump destroy the Country? 50% of the Country hates him and 50% loves him, just depends on your point of view. It is just that each half thinks they are correct and everyone should think as they do. Trump”s list of accomplishments is long, from fixing foreign affairs to the economy at home to getting rid of red tape in government which allowed a warp speed development of the vaccine. The real thing we need is a way to chop off the two extreme sides and bring them together.

So done
Wed, 01/06/2021 - 12:16pm

Trump is such an evil dunce. He wants a civil war as a diversion to take attention away from his crimes. He thinks he's so clever, but only to the extent that a toddler thinks he is.

I call BS
Wed, 01/06/2021 - 12:17pm

If the election was stolen, I want Whitmer to choose our Michigan legislators!

Good Times
Wed, 01/06/2021 - 1:07pm

Stay tuned for some fun kabuki theatre in DC. Eric Trump is threatening these scared GOP representatives vowing to primary them if they refuse to engage in sedition. LMAO

Wed, 01/06/2021 - 1:16pm

Cult-like GOP lunacy on full display in our nation's Capitol.

Wed, 01/06/2021 - 1:25pm

"Thousands" of Trump supporters gathered in Washington DC to protest the election of Biden who won with 81,283,48584 votes!

"Lyin'" Ted Cruz who is now "beautiful Ted" supports Cheeto who disparaged his father and wife because Trump said he would otherwise "spill the beans" on Ted. More Russian Kompromat?

Game Over
Wed, 01/06/2021 - 2:05pm

Senate Minority Leader Moscow Mitch capitulated, soon Waterboy Pence will follow. Let the investigations begin! Eric Trump and Q-Anon are all that is left to defend Big Oompa Loompa. Did Junior flee the country already? Wondering if all that Trump bling purchased from China is recyclable.

Amazing Ignorance
Wed, 01/06/2021 - 2:08pm

How many people from Michigan are at the useless superspreader Trump rally in Washington?

25th Amendment
Wed, 01/06/2021 - 2:32pm

Watching Trump's shameful coup, disgusting! What a desecration to our temple of democracy, our Constitution, and our country! Trump "Nero" gloats as he orders his sycophants to destroy our country.

Law and Order
Wed, 01/06/2021 - 2:37pm

There's a Lafayette Square situation at the US Capitol. Where is Trump, golfing? Where are the police, the teargas, the Bible? DC looks like Lansing.

Wed, 01/06/2021 - 2:39pm

Trump's parting gift to the USA: ANARCHY! WT literal F?

Butch Krumenaker
Wed, 01/06/2021 - 3:15pm

The GOP should be proud of their efforts in bringing about what is happening in Washinton on 1/6/21 ! When a political party can call an election a "fraud" with NO EVIDENCE........God help our Republic ! The GOP (both local and national) have jumped on the Trump wagon and I hope voters remember their backing of this "DICTATOR", and what happen in Washington today! If any of you are incline to, please preay for the Republic today, she really needs it !

Wed, 01/06/2021 - 6:26pm

Eventually Shirkey condemned the Trump Capitol riot where a woman lost her life and vandals attacked our sacred temple of democracy, still no word from Chatfield.

Lawn order
Wed, 01/06/2021 - 11:18pm

It’s Trump’s last stand at Electoral College count. All eyes are on Michigan
It's Wednesday, January 6. There are no eyes on Michigan today. They are on DC and the Capital building.

How can we both sides this? Should dems have just given them what they wanted? Do we allow President Trump to become President for life so that we don't suffer the wrath of these True Patriots just trying to defend the truth?

The National Association of Manufacturers issued a statement:

“The outgoing president incited violence in an attempt to retain power, and any elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy. Anyone indulging conspiracy theories to raise campaign dollars is complicit. Vice President Pence, who was evacuated from the Capitol, should seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy.”

The Business community is now calling for the removal of the President that was supposed to be best for business.

How much more placating do you think we should continue to offer these Patriots? How much more of this do you think the Country can handle before it falls apart?