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The Michigan State Board Of Canvassers Does The Right Thing

[ Posted Monday, November 23rd, 2020 – 17:22 UTC ]

I spent some time today watching the end of the Michigan State Board of Canvassers meeting on television. Now, I'm a pretty wonky guy when it comes to politics, but even I never thought I would ever spend any of my time watching a state elections board perform their rather mundane duties. Over the years, I've watched more congressional hearings than I can count, but not since the year 2000 has anyone paid such close attention to the nuts-and-bolts inner workings of how votes are counted and certified in this country. And I certainly wasn't the only one watching -- the streaming on YouTube reportedly had over 30,000 viewers. For the Michigan State Board of Canvassers.

In the end, the board fulfilled their duty, as both Democrats on the board and one of the two Republicans voted to certify the previously-certified results of Michigan's 83 counties. The state board's job consists entirely of adding up the already-certified county results and certifying the final statewide total. That's it -- that's their entire job. Add 83 sets of numbers together and come up with the correct totals, and then certify the final numbers. The other Republican on the board didn't even vote against certification in the end -- he abstained.

Now that the results have been certified, Michigan will appoint 16 electors to the Electoral College, and they all will cast their vote for Joe Biden. What was once so routine as to be beneath the notice even of wonks like me is now thankfully over. So I can add one more thing to my list of things I'm thankful for this Thursday.

By the end of the day, that list could grow even further. Both Pennsylvania and Arizona have deadlines today for the certification of their votes, from each of their counties. In Pennsylvania, the Democratic secretary of state will then certify the whole state's results, while in Arizona it'll take another week before there is state-wide certification.

When you add in Georgia, which certified their results last week, this will make the election results official in all five of the states that Joe Biden flipped from President Donald Trump. Wisconsin previously certified their results, and are currently in the midst of a recount. There may be other recounts ahead, but with the margins so wide, none of them will change the ultimate results (recounts rarely change the totals more than a few hundred votes either way). And Trump would have to have this happen in multiple states to change the overall outcome.

To put this another way, it is now all but guaranteed that Joe Biden will win 306 Electoral College votes, far more than the 270 necessary. Not every state has officially certified their results yet, but those that are still waiting were won by Biden or Trump with much bigger margins than in any of the close states, so they are all a foregone conclusion.

Donald Trump's extended hissy fit over losing the election to Biden (in its third week now) may continue for a while, of course. But all he's proving now is that he is will go down in history as the biggest sore loser in American politics, ever.

Trump has tried everything under the sun in his effort to overturn what "We The People" said at the ballot box. He has made wild accusations of fraud without a scintilla of evidence, he has spun bonkers conspiracy theories with abandon, and he is now flirting with using raw political power to outright steal an election by any means necessary -- which included a rather ham-handed attempt to strongarm Republicans from the Michigan legislature into just tossing out the will of the people and voting in pro-Trump electors instead. This attempt failed miserably, as the Republicans exited the White House meeting with Trump and immediately put out a statement saying that they weren't going to even consider such a thing, since there was no evidence whatsoever to back it up.

Trump will leave his presidency as ineptly and incompetently as he has behaved all along, to put this another way. Even his grandiose power schemes all fall apart, because he never bothered to learn the slightest thing about how American democracy actually works. He is now nothing short of a national embarrassment, plain and simple.

All of his court cases since the election have gone nowhere. Almost all of them were summarily laughed out of court due to their complete and utter lack of any evidence of fraud whatsoever. Trump turned the whole legal effort over to Rudy Giuliani and his ship of fools, which pretty much guarantees that all the cases that still remain will fail miserably as well. The Supreme Court is not going to magically save Trump's skin -- I seriously doubt whether any of Trump's appeals will even be heard by them, at this point.

There is also now absolutely no justification whatsoever for the head of the General Services Administration to continue refusing to do her job. She now needs to issue an official "ascertainment" that Joe Biden will be our next president, which will officially start Biden's transition. This will allow people to get paid, office space to be provided, and (most importantly) for the Biden team to have full access to the current administration. This will allow Biden's team to talk to the official federal coronavirus task force, get the Presidential Daily Brief (containing all relevant top-secret information from the intelligence services), and start interfacing with every single executive branch department. This should have happened two weeks ago, and now there is not a single possible plausible reason for this delay to go on any longer than it already has.

The votes are in. They have been counted. They are being certified, state by state. There is no question who won. Joe Biden will be sworn into office next January, whether Trump can ever come to grips with that basic fact or not.

The heartening thing about watching such a wonky governmental meeting in Michigan was hearing from so many people how important this vote truly was. I admit, I only caught perhaps the last hour of the meeting, so I didn't hear the earlier stuff (which apparently was chock-full of conspiracy theorizing aplenty from angry Republicans). But towards the end, at least, we heard from people who had participated in the counting process both in Wayne County and in other parts of the state. We heard from observers who were in the room for this counting, and we heard the Republicans' nonsense shot down time and time again. We heard that there was complete transparency, that all questions were answered, and the only ones causing any disruption whatsoever were the Republican observers, many of whom were simply not adequately trained in what they were allowed to both do and not do.

We also heard plenty of righteous indignation from average voters, who were outraged that their votes were even being called into question. One woman pointedly told the board that listening to all of the Republican nonsense was like watching them rip up her ballot in front of her eyes.

In the end, one Republican board member did the right thing. He, together with the Republican officials in Georgia who resisted all the political pressure from their own party, should now go down in history as a true profiles in courage.

It didn't have to be this way, however. What's astonishing isn't that this one guy did the right thing, what's truly astonishing is how much of the Republican Party has followed Donald Trump down this rabbit hole of his own making. To their eternal shame, one sincerely hopes.

So far, American democracy has mostly resisted and survived all of Trump's attempts to destroy the bedrock sanctity of a nationwide election. Mostly, Trump's efforts have been inept and even downright ridiculous (see, once again: Rudy Giuliani). The system has proven more resilient and strong than was thought even a week or two ago, to put this another way. This is good news for us all. But it really didn't have to be this way. If enough Republicans had just told Trump: "You lost, get over it" by now, then I wouldn't have to be spending my time watching a Michigan State Board of Canvassers meeting.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


11 Comments on “The Michigan State Board Of Canvassers Does The Right Thing”

  1. [1] 
    James T Canuck wrote:
  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Obviously, this was written before the news that Trump had unleashed the GSA to allow Biden's transition team to move forward...


  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    JTC -

    Good news!


    Oh, sorry: "What is good news?"



  4. [4] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Chris, on [2]:

    I was going to mention it, if you hadn't. As I read the story, the GSA admin is making a huge effort to say it was all her own idea to wait this long, and she's perfectly glad to set things in motion now that state certifications are finally making it clear that Biden really did win.

    At the same time, apparently the president tweeted that he told her to do it, even as he continues to fight the results, because it's the right thing to do, or something equally uncharacteristic of him.

    Then I read just a headline, suggesting that White House aides were blindsided by the GSA change of position, asserting that Biden has won and they have lost. (I don't read stuff about Trump or his White House anymore - just skim and try to ignore the pain.)

    I am guessing that at some point in the past eight hours there was a s**tstorm of a fight between Ms. GSA and Mr. President, which she won. I wonder if we'll ever know more.

    And I wonder if this will be the breaking of the dam of Republican legislators and cabinet secretaries agreeing that Biden won and will be the next president.

  5. [5] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    JFC -

    That's exactly what I was wondering -- did she go to T and tell him he had to either accept the ascertainment or her resignation? Seems like that would be the only thing that would get his attention, at this point...

    Like you said, we may never know, although I dunno -- this White House leaks like a sieve...


  6. [6] 
    SF Bear wrote:

    Regarding Biden's cabinet positions, while we may applaud or criticize the choices none if it matters because Moscow Mitch will not allow ANY of them to be approved. Biden proposes but Mitch disposes. Biden may be president but he is Mitch's bitch. Prey it rains in Georgia.

  7. [7] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    It does seem a little like a hollow victory for American democracy when the consensus is that the old girl still has life left in her. I still think the 'old girl' would benefit from a facelift, a new dress and a pair of orthotic shoes. Like all things, time and use bring flaws to the attention of the people empowered to ensure continued use. The Electoral College, for instance, it was designed to ensure even sparsely populated areas would have the same clout as densely populated areas where the sheer number of voters would dominate the federal elections. However, now American elections seem to always hinge on so-called battleground states that seem to relish the undue power the weald over the entire nation. I'm not sure I could bear the thought of a bunch of cheese-makers in Wisconsin deciding who gets to govern over a nation that probably has more lactose intolerant citizens than the entire benighted state of Wisconsin has voters.

    But that's another story, as I had a choice and chose wisely.

    It did come to fruition (probably at the same time as CW decided enough was more than enough) that the GSA changed tack and recognised Biden as the heir-apparent. It also marks the tacit recognition of Trump that he has lost, though his twittery on the subject doesn't go anywhere near a full-throated congratulation to Biden and Harris, for Trump it was almost cathartic.

    No doubt some will see it as personal growth in the face of devastating personal loss, most will see it as a capitulation to the inevitable... I see it more like Trump's inevitable abandonment of all the gullible creatures he's been stoking and frothing up with his conspiracies and bullshit.

    They, whether or not they or even he realises it, are now alone in this fruitless endeavour. Trump's abdication of the struggle means he can no longer fuel that particular thread of insanity because he himself can't sustain it in the face of reality, in the same way, the birther scam died one minute after Clinton conceded four years ago. Trump uses and has used this format to death until it either works or fails as a tool to get what he wants out of people gullible to back his efforts with numbers. The debate might rage over whether or not Trump actually believes the nonsense, but it's a heavy lift to think he does, considering all the ardour seems to melt away when the conspiracy theory seems no longer relevant to his aims.

    All in all, a good day methinks.


  8. [8] 
    John M wrote:

    There are going to be a few lingering questions going forward:

    1) Now that even Laura Ingraham has told her viewers that Joe Biden has won, What happens to FOX news and all those chants of "FOX sucks!" by Trump supporters?

    2) Does the Republican party continue the path it has taken toward being an authoritarian party by trying to hold onto power by supporting non-democratic means?

    3) When is Michale going to honor his bets regarding the election?

  9. [9] 
    John From Censornati wrote:


    Relax. CW has not even announced his fundraiser yet.

  10. [10] 
    TheStig wrote:

    I wish Mr. Trump a long life. As an infamous sad sack loser, failed business man, failed Fluke POTUS and golf cheat. The United States version of Guy Fawkes meriting a yearly anti- holiday with bonfires, masks and illuminations. Pick an open day in November.

  11. [11] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [8] John M wrote:

    ...(3) When is Michale going to honor his bets regarding the election?

    I'm wondering the same thing while not holding my breath.

Comments for this article are closed.