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Election experts resolve questions regarding canvassing

A bipartisan panel in Wayne County, Michigan, unanimously certified its election results just...
A bipartisan panel in Wayne County, Michigan, unanimously certified its election results just hours after two Republican canvassers made unverified claims of voting irregularities in Detroit.
Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 3:31 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Election experts in Michigan held a question and answer session to help the public understand the role of the Board of State Canvassers ahead of Monday’s election results certification.

One of the biggest concerns expressed was what is to happen if the Board of State Canvassers deadlocks at 2-2 deciding not to certify the election results? Goodman Acker P.C. Attorney Mark Brewer said the answer is simple, they have to make a decision regardless.

“It’s mandatory. It’s ministerial. They have no choice. The first option in that case would be court action. Seeking a court order to compel them to do their duty backed up by the various sanctions starting with contempt,” said Brewer.

Michigan State University Adjunct Law School adjunct faculty member John Pirich explained a canvasser’s duty is to tabulate results and report them. There should be no room for political bias or authority outside of that.

“The reality is this is a ministerial duty. It has nothing to do with discretion, it has nothing to do with your politics, it has nothing to do with anything other than reviewing the numbers,” said Pirich. “They have absolutely no power to investigate allegations, theories, or any other kind of arguments.”

There is one loop hole in which the board can adjourn should the majority vote to do so. But, according to Pirich they shouldn’t be allowed to in this case.

“All 83 counties have certified the vote totals. So, there’s no legal basis for adjournment in regard to issues that they have exclusive jurisdiction for, which is to receive the canvass and to certify the results,” he said.

Mark Brewer said in the event the board tries to deadlock on Monday, the legislature will play no role in the decision.

“You can look through the entire Michigan Election Code that was written by the legislature and signed by governors of both parties, there is no role for the legislature in this process. Particularly after the election has occurred,” he said.

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