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Joe Biden won, Michigan elector coup ‘not going to happen,’ GOP leader says

Nov. 23: Canvassers certify election. Joe Biden wins Michigan, its 16 electoral votes​
Nov. 23: With Michigan’s presidential vote certified, is Trump out of options?
Nov. 20: Michigan GOP leaders meet Trump, promise ‘we will follow law’ on election
Nov. 18: Michigan GOP canvassers under pressure to ignore votes, help Trump

LANSING — Democrat Joe Biden is the president-elect, and while Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature is investigating the election, it will not award the state’s 16 electors to GOP President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey told Bridge on Tuesday.

Hundreds of activists who protested at the Michigan Capitol on Saturday repeated the president’s unproven claims of widespread voter fraud, urging lawmakers to “stop the steal” by choosing their own pro-Trump representatives to the Electoral College. 

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Conservative groups have also started phone and letter-writing campaigns in an attempt to persuade legislative Republicans to decide the election for Trump. 

“That’s not going to happen,” Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said in a wide-ranging interview with Bridge Michigan. He noted state law awards electors to the winner of the state’s popular vote. And Biden won the state by more than 146,000 votes, according to unofficial results. 

“We are going to follow the law and follow the process,” he said. “I do believe there's reason to go slow and deliberate as we evaluate the allegations that have been raised.”

Shirkey spoke with Bridge hours before Tuesday's deadline for Michigan’s 83 county canvassing boards statewide to certify results, a key step before the Electoral College formally selects the president on Dec. 14.

Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, this month launched a legislative inquiry into Michigan’s election, citing “numerous allegations regarding the integrity” of the Nov. 3 contest that was administered by local clerks in 1,600 jurisdictions. 

A joint oversight committee has met once so far to issue a subpoena for state records on registration and absentee ballot applications. Leadership also plans to demand records from Detroit, where absentee ballot poll challengers clashed, and Antrim County, where the GOP clerk applied a software update incorrectly and temporarily skewed results. 

Separately, the Trump campaign is suing to halt certification of the Michigan election results, an effort marred by repeated legal blunders. GOP allies lost a key case in Wayne County, where a judge deemed Detroit poll challenger allegations of irregularities “not credible,” but the Great Lakes Justice Center is attempting to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

The legislative inquiry is not designed to change the outcome of the Michigan election, Shirkey told Bridge, noting he also wants to see those court cases play out. 

“No state has certified yet, but I don’t have high expectations for these reviews, whether Michigan or otherwise, to ultimately change the results of the election,” he said. 

Asked about Trump’s repeated claims that he won Michigan, the highest-ranking Republican in the state Legislature said he does not know what the president is thinking. 

“I'd be hard-pressed to figure out why he's done a lot of the things that he's done, and said a lot of the things that he said, so I'm not going to speculate in this case,” Shirkey said. 

He also suggested the Trump administration begin sharing information with Biden’s team, which the president has so far refused to do. Experts have warned that a delayed transition could jeopardize national security if Biden is not briefed on potential threats.

“I do think that it's inappropriate for the Trump administration to not start sharing information,” Shirkey said. “We don't want this to be all of a sudden one day you go from one to the other, and there's not been any opportunity for transition. I see no downside for staffs to be interacting and allowing a controlled and well-programmed transition process.” 

The Michigan Bureau of Elections on Monday provided nearly 1,100 pages of documents to the legislative oversight committee reviewing the Nov. 3 election. That's not everything the panel sought, but Attorney General Dana Nessel said the agency will continue to provide additional documents on a rolling basis.

The initial demand to produce "all documents and communications" on registration and absentee ballot applications within nine days was "unduly burdensome” since it comes as the bureau is amid work to certify the election, Nessel's office said in a letter to lawmakers. 

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said the initial batch of documents provided Monday "illustrates our commitment to transparency and cooperation, despite the questionable legality of the legislative committees’ subpoena and the naked partisan agenda behind their action."

Shirkey said the Legislature is concerned about expansion of absentee ballot voting in Michigan, which voters approved through a constitutional amendment in 2018. Some 3 million cast absentee ballots this year, a record.

“I do believe we will find, especially in this new reality of mail-in ballots, that there are some serious holes in our election laws that make it easier to do fraudulent things,” he said, but the oversight committee could also help to debunk a proliferation of conspiracy theories.

“We need to get to the truth and bottom of it.”

Shirkey acknowledged he inadvertently spread misinformation last week during a television interview in Jackson when he shared a doctored image of a newspaper headline declaring “President Gore” had won the 2000 election, which Al Gore actually lost to George W. Bush.

A viewer sent him a “delightful email” explaining that the image was fake, Shirkey said, noting he thanked the viewer and also called the television host to explain the mistake.

The Trump campaign’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud focus on Detroit, where Democratic, Republican and independent poll challengers have offered conflicting accounts of access to the absentee ballot counting process, often accusing each other of disruptions. 

Shirkey said he hopes cooler heads will prevail. 

“I hope there is a lesson learned that we all want this process to be done with the highest regard and highest integrity, and it’s hard to do when people are basically not treating each other well right in the moment,” he said. “Both sides, both sides, both sides. Everybody owns part of this.”

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