DETROIT – A Republican member of Michigan’s state canvassing board broke with his GOP colleague Monday, joining two Democrats in voting to certify the state’s election results.
Three members of the Michigan Board of State Canvassers voted to certify state election results. Republican Norm Shinkle abstained.
The decision by board Vice Chairman Aaron Van Langevelde to not join fellow Republican Shinkle in voting against certification allayed the fears of many that Republican board members would delay formalizing election results, likely pushing the decision to a court.
“This board must respect the authority entrusted to it, and follow the law as written. We must not try to exercise power we simply don’t have,” said Van Langevelde, a staff attorney and policy adviser for the state House Republican Caucus.
Before the meeting, Shinkle had indicated he would not vote to certify. His wife, Mary Shinkle, was one of more than 100 people who filed affidavits in support of a federal lawsuit filed by the President Donald Trump campaign alleging misconduct in Detroit.
During the meeting, he asked questions about Detroit and clearly indicated he did not trust the Michigan election system.
“There is no excuse for confusion and uncertainty that seems to follow every election in our state,” Shinkle said in a statement before the vote.
Some expected Van Langevelde to follow suit. However, Van Langevelde voted with Democrats Jeannette Bradshaw and Julie Matuzak to certify the results. Throughout the meeting, Van Langevelde repeatedly noted the board has limited legal authority – it cannot investigate allegations of fraud or misconduct, or review any information other than election results certified by counties, he said.
“There’s nothing in the law that gives me the authority to request an audit as part of the certification process, correct?” Van Langevelde asked during one point of the meeting. “The law is pretty clear here. This board has such limited authority.”
The vote is the latest in a series of procedural steps needed to finalize election results and cast the state’s 16 electoral votes for Joe Biden.
Biden earned approximately 154,000 more votes than President Donald Trump in the state. However, Trump and supporters have argued, without evidence and relying on conspiracy theories, that Michigan’s election results were stolen or are otherwise fraudulent.
At times, more than 33,000 people watched the livestream of the meeting, conducted virtually in accordance with state COVID-19 guidance. Board members and staff sat at a distance from one another, with transparent partitions erected between their seats. Most wore masks, although some removed those masks while speaking.
Republicans nationally and in Michigan, including U.S. Senate candidate John James, also sought a delay of certification, arguing alleged irregularities in Detroit warrant further review before votes are finalized.