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Michigan Republicans Backtrack After Refusing to Certify Election Results

“This action does away with a long and proud history of Wayne County Board of Canvassers acting in a truly bipartisan fashion, protecting the sanctity of the vote and instilling confidence in Wayne County residents that their votes were indeed counted and counted correctly,” Lavora Barnes, the chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, said in a statement. “Which is exactly what happened this year.”

The Wayne canvassing board was not the last hurdle in the Michigan certification process. The Board of State Canvassers, which must deliver final state certification, consists of two Democrats, Jeannette Bradshaw and Julie Matuzak, and two Republicans, Norman D. Shinkle and Aaron Van Langevelde.

Mr. Shinkle’s wife, Mary Shinkle, filed an affidavit in support of a lawsuit the Trump campaign has brought in federal court lawsuit alleging voting irregularities in Wayne County. The affidavit claimed, among other things, that poll workers had been “extremely rude and aggressive” to her and other observers, that they had not allowed her to look over their shoulders as they processed ballots, and that envelopes and ballot stubs had not been securely stored. The judge in the state case had dismissed similar affidavits as based on “an incorrect interpretation of events.”

Tuesday’s drama stoked fears among Democrats that Mr. Trump was working to force Michigan and other critical states to miss their certification deadlines so that Republican-controlled legislatures could appoint their own slates of pro-Trump delegates to the Electoral College, regardless of popular vote victories for Mr. Biden — moves that Mr. Biden’s lawyers have dismissed as legally futile.

Mike Shirkey, the Republican majority leader in the Michigan State Senate, said in an interview on Tuesday with Bridge Michigan, a local news outlet, that the Legislature would not move to appoint its own slate of electors.

“That’s not going to happen,” Mr. Shirkey said.

The state board is supposed to certify its results on Nov. 23, but Mr. Thomas, the adviser to the Detroit city clerk, said that the state would have until mid-December to submit its tallies to the Electoral College, which he said was plenty of time, even if the state board deadlocks, which would force the fight into the courts.

“When they deadlock, the court generally tells them, ‘Your job is ministerial,’ which means you count the votes,” he said, “and you publish the certified results.”

Kathleen Gray reported from Detroit, and Jim Rutenberg and Nick Corasaniti from New York. Maggie Astor and Annie Karni contributed reporting.


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