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What to expect from Michigan Board of Canvassers; how to watch meeting

Update: Canvassers certify election. Joe Biden wins Michigan, its 16 electoral votes​
Related: With Michigan’s presidential vote certified, is Trump out of options?

The national spotlight is on the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, which meets at 1 p.m. Monday to decide whether to certify election results from the state’s 83 counties. 

What was once a routine step in the election process has become embroiled in controversy, as Republicans have urged the bipartisan board to delay certification by 14 days to conduct an audit. House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, has warned the state could face a “constitutional crisis” if canvassers don’t certify.

The meeting comes days after President Donald Trump invited Chatfied and other Republican lawmakers to the White House amid his effort to persuade state legislatures to ignore the popular vote and award Michigan’s 16 electors to him.

The meeting, which will take place at the Secretary of State’s office in Lansing, will be streamed to adhere to social distancing protocols Here’s what to expect:

Who is on the board?

Two Democrats and two Republicans.

The Democrats are Jeannette Bradshaw of Ortonville, recording secretary and registrar for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 58 union in Detroit and Julie Matuzak of Clinton Township,  who is retired as political coordinator for the American Federation of Teachers union.

The Republicans are Norm Shinkle of Williamston, a former state senator, n and Aaron Van Langevelde of Charlotte, an attorney who works for the Michigan House Republicans. 

All were nominated by their political parties and confirmed by the state governor for four-year terms that receive nominal pay, $75 per meeting. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reappointed Shinkle and Matuzak last year.

What is their job?

The board is charged under state law with certifying the election. At least three members must vote in favor in order for the process to be complete. The Democrats are expected to vote to certify. There’s less certainty about the Republicans.

Shinkle’s wife was a GOP poll challenger in Detroit and has told Bridge Michigan he makes no promises about his vote. He told the Washington Post he is leaning toward not certifying in order to conduct an audit of Wayne County’s election results.

The other Republican, Van Langevelde, has made no public comment about his vote.

What is the issue?

Democrat Joe Biden won Michigan by more than 154,000 in unofficial results. But without evidence, Trump has alleged widespread voter fraud, which courts have repeatedly ruled is unfounded. 

Many of the allegations center on Wayne County, a Democratic stronghold that provided Biden his path to victory in Michigan, even though he increased his support in suburbs and west Michigan

After Trump’s allegations of fraud went nowhere in court, the Michigan Republican Party and Republican National Committee on Saturday asked for a 14-day delay in certifying the election in order to conduct an audit.

That would delay certification until Dec. 7, one day before the “safe harbor” deadline for states to certify elections before courts or the state Legislature could intervene.

The Secretary of State and other election experts, however, said state law forbids audits until after certification.

What will happen?

It could take a while. Activists on both sides of the aisle are expected to make their case about certification.

Each speaker has three minutes to make comments. The Secretary of State hasn’t said how many speakers are expected, but activists from both political parties widely circulated comment forms this weekend. So it’s a safe bet that a bunch are expected.

The board’s agenda also includes: 

  • Consideration of meeting minutes for approval (Oct. 15 meeting).
  • Recording the results of the Nov. 3, special election for the Michigan House of Representatives, 4th District, partial term ending Jan. 1.

How to watch

Come back to Bridge Michigan and this story. Also, the meeting will be streamed live and an agenda is available here

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