Where things stand with Trump and the US election

Michigan certifies results as President Donald Trump’s legal challenges and vote recounts continue three weeks after US Election Day.

Employees of the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections process ballots on November 4, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia, the United States [File: Brandon Bell/Reuters]
Employees of the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections process ballots on November 4, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia, the United States [File: Brandon Bell/Reuters]

Michigan certified United States President-elect Joe Biden as the winner in the election battleground Midwestern state on Monday, as President Donald Trump’s legal challenges and vote recounts continued to give little chance of a change in the outcome.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers confirmed earlier projections that Democrat Biden beat Republican Trump in the closely-contested race.

With the certification and Michigan’s 16 electoral votes, Trump’s effort to deny Biden a victory by claiming election irregularities and fraud in many states became even more unlikely to succeed.

Michigan results

Biden beat Trump in Michigan by more than 150,000 votes, or almost three percentage points, and the election canvassing board is required to validate the count.

Trump-supporting poll challengers chant ‘stop the count’ outside the door of the ballot counting room after being asked to leave due to room capacity at the TCF Center after Election Day in Detroit, Michigan, on November 4 [Rebecca Cook/Reuters]
Trump and his GOP allies made calls for Republicans to delay certification. Norman Shinkle, one of the two Republicans on the four-member Michigan board, had suggested that he favoured delaying certification because of technical irregularities that may have affected a few hundred votes in one county. He abstained from Monday’s vote.

The board’s other Republican, Aaron Van Langevelde, said repeatedly during a meeting on Monday that he saw no indication in the law that the board has an option other than to certify the results submitted to it. “Our duty is very simple, and it’s our duty,” Van Langevelde was quoted by the AP as saying.

He voted for certification, which passed 3-0.

Pennsylvania legal challenge

Monday is also the deadline in Pennsylvania for counties to report their certified tallies to Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat.

Boockvar could then certify the results on behalf of the state in a matter of days. Biden won Pennsylvania by about 81,000 votes, or just over one percentage point.

But Trump’s campaign on Monday asked a federal appeals court to revive a long-shot challenge to Pennsylvania’s election results, saying officials should be halted from declaring President-elect Joe Biden as the state’s winner.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, pauses as he speaks during a news conference on legal challenges to vote counting, on November 7, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania [John Minchillo/AP Photo]
The lawsuit filed by Trump’s campaign had alleged inconsistent treatment by county election officials of mail-in ballots.

The campaign is appealing part of a decision from the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, handed by US District Judge Matthew Brann.

Brann said in his ruling on Saturday that the case was based on “strained legal arguments” and that he had “no authority to take away the right to vote of even a single person, let alone millions of citizens”.

Brann also denied the campaign’s request to add claims to its lawsuit, including an allegation that its due-process rights were violated.

The Trump campaign’s appeal is focused on the narrow question of whether Brann improperly refused to let them amend their lawsuit a second time.

Pennsylvania’s secretary of state has until Tuesday afternoon to respond. If the campaign loses its appeal, it could ask the US Supreme Court to review the case.

Recounts

The Trump campaign is also challenging results through recounts, in both Georgia and Wisconsin.

Georgia, whose Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified its election results last week, showed Biden beating Trump by 12,670 votes out of about five million cast, or about 0.25 percent.

Under state law, a candidate can request a recount when the margin is less than 0.5 percent. The Trump campaign on Saturday sent a formal request for a recount to the secretary of state’s office.

The counties can begin the recount at 9am (14:00 GMT) Tuesday and must finish by 11:59pm on December 2 (05:00 GMT on December 3), Gabriel Sterling, who oversaw the implementation of the state’s new voting system for the secretary of state’s office, said during a video news conference Monday.

Sterling also said that the secretary of state’s office is still reviewing whether any sort of investigation into verification of signed oaths on the outside of Georgia ballots is appropriate, but he said there has not been any specific claim that the signature match process was not done properly.

Wisconsin’s partial presidential recount entered its fourth day Monday, with very few changes in vote totals.

Biden won the state by about 20,600 votes and his margin in the largely-Democratic Milwaukee and Dane Counties was about two to one. Those are the only counties where Trump paid to have a recount.

Trump’s attorneys seek to stop counting any absentee ballots where voters identified themselves as “indefinitely confined”; where information on the certification envelope is in two different ink colors, indicating a poll worker may have helped complete it; and where there is not a separate written record for it having been requested, including all in-person absentee ballots.

These ballots were being counted during the recount, but could be targeted as part of Trump’s legal challenge in the state, which alleges mail-in voter fraud, especially around poll workers assisting to complete ballots.

The bipartisan Elections Commission’s longstanding guidance has been that clerks can fill in missing information when they can reliably determine it. No court has ever ruled the practice illegal.

Source : Al Jazeera and News agencies

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