Michigan electors cast 16 votes for President-elect Biden
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan electors cast 16 votes Monday for President-elect Joe Biden, who reclaimed the battleground state for Democrats on his way to winning the White House.
The vote was announced by Michigan Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes and confirmed by Democratic Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II during a scaled-back, socially distanced Electoral College ceremony inside the Michigan Senate.
The Capitol was closed to the public due to coronavirus restrictions. Lawmakers also closed their offices because of threats of violence. Electors and some top Democrats were escorted into the Statehouse by state police while a sparse group of protesters gathered outside.
“The people have spoken,” said Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who delivered remarks in which she noted that a record 5.5 million Michigan voters cast ballots in the election despite the pandemic. “It was a safe, secure and fair election.”
Citing baseless allegations of widespread fraud, Trump and his allies had urged the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate Biden’s 154,000-vote, or 2.8-percentage point, victory in Michigan and pushed the Republican-led Legislature to choose electors. But the legally suspect, longshot bids were rejected by the court and by Republican legislative leaders, who pointed to a state law that stipulates that the votes go to the popular vote winner.
The state certified Biden’s win two weeks ago — one that was more than 14 times bigger than Trump’s surprise, 10,700-vote margin over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
One of the electors, history teacher Blake Mazurek, posted a photo of his official ballot for Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris. “For my daughter — and EVERY woman throughout our land!” he tweeted.
He told reporters: “A Biden presidency, I hope, will restore a sense of decorum, even though we have for decades been sliding into very hyper-partisan sniping and attacks. I hope that he’s able to show the country that his leadership will help begin the mending of fences. I want to have that optimism. I need that optimism.”
The Capitol building is closed to the public due to coronavirus restrictions except when lawmakers meet for session. Amber McCann, spokeswoman for Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, said legislators’ offices in the statehouse and nearby buildings also were closed based on recommendations from law enforcement.
“The decision was not made because of anticipated protests, but was made based on credible threats of violence,” she said.
Lawmakers from both parties have reported receiving threats amid Trump’s futile bid to overturn the election result.
About a dozen people demonstrated outside the Capitol. At one point, a separate group that included at least two Republican state House members tried to enter with the GOP’s Electoral College candidates. They were turned away.
Shirkey said he was very disappointed in the outcome of the election, but Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris won. Claims of alleged fraud are incorrect or incapable of being proven, he said, and there is no evidence of fraud on a scale that would change the result.
“While there are some who still argue this should not take place, we must recognize that our feelings, our desires and our disappointments are subordinate to the health of our democracy and the will of the majority,” he said in a statement. “Our country is bigger than one election.”
House Speaker Lee Chatfield, a Republican, said he “can’t fathom risking our norms, traditions and institutions to pass a resolution retroactively changing the electors for Trump, simply because some think there may have been enough widespread fraud to give him the win. That’s unprecedented for good reason.”
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