Michigan certified U.S. president-elect Joe Biden as the winner in the election battleground Midwestern state on Monday, making President Donald Trump’s effort to deny Biden a victory by claiming election irregularities and fraud in many states even less likely to succeed.
The Michigan Board of State Canvassers confirmed earlier projections that Democrat Biden beat the Republican incumbent in the closely contested race.
Shortly after the Michigan vote, the U.S. General Services Administration, an independent agency, informed Biden that his transition — leading up to a Jan. 20 swearing-in — could officially begin.
In a tweet, Trump wrote that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy and her team should “do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”
With the rapid-fire developments, Trump’s already languishing efforts to overturn his Nov. 3 defeat appeared to be coming to a close. Following the Michigan vote, Pennsylvania looked to push ahead with certifying that Biden was the winner.
The U.S. president has been defeated repeatedly in his persistent legal battle to overturn the election results in a string of battleground states and prevent Biden from being sworn in. Trump and his campaign have made unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud.
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.
WATCH | Trump team keeps up legal challenges:
Norman Shinkle, one of the two Republicans on the four-member Michigan board, had suggested 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 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 said. He voted for certification, which passed 3-0.
Monday is also the deadline in Pennsylvania for counties to report their certified tallies to Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat. Boockvar likely would then certify the results on behalf of the state in a matter of days. Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes.
Electors in each state will convene as the electoral college on Dec. 14 to formally select the next president. Biden won 306 electoral votes, 36 over the 270 threshold needed to win.
Biden forges ahead
Biden, working in his home state of Delaware, has pushed ahead with his transition plans despite the lack of co-operation from the current administration. Biden on Monday named the top members of his foreign policy team, nominating trusted aide Antony Blinken to head the State Department.
He also named Jake Sullivan as his national security adviser and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations — both with high-level government experience.
Meanwhile, the Trump campaign’s focus remains on an increasingly desperate quest to delay certification of the election results in several states, an effort that has mostly met with failure. It suffered another blow on Saturday when a federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed a lawsuit, saying it was not in the court’s power to violate the U.S. Constitution.
Trump’s campaign has also filed a petition for another recount in Georgia, which on Friday certified results showing Biden had narrowly won that state, a longtime Republican bastion in presidential elections, after conducting a laborious manual recount.
A state official said Monday that Georgia will begin recounting votes from the election again on Tuesday.
The new recount, which is not expected to alter certified results that show Biden won the election, will end at midnight on Dec. 2, according to Gabriel Sterling, the Georgia official who oversees voting systems. The recount will be conducted by electronic scanners.
More Republicans speaking out
While most Republicans have continued to either publicly back Trump’s efforts or remained silent, a growing number have implored him to concede the election and assist with the transition to Biden’s administration.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania told CNBC that the idea of a sitting president pressuring lawmakers to disregard the will of voters by selecting their own group of electors was completely inconsistent with a democratic society.
“I can assure you that I’m not alone in this view among Republican senators,” said Toomey, who has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2022.
Indeed, Republican Sen. Rob Portman — co-chairman of Trump’s campaign in Ohio who rarely breaks with party leaders — said there was no evidence of widespread election fraud and called for the transition to begin.
“It is now time to expeditiously resolve any outstanding questions and move forward,” Portman wrote in a Cincinnati Enquirer opinion column on Monday.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski — a Republican who charts a more independent course and has acknowledged Biden’s victory — late on Sunday said it was time to start the full transition process. She denounced efforts by some Trump supporters to overturn election results in some states as “not only unprecedented but inconsistent with our democratic process.”
Calls for Trump to accept defeat have been stronger outside Washington, even from some of his staunchest supporters, including former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who called Trump’s legal team “a national embarrassment” in an interview on ABC.
And more than 100 former Republican national security officials demanded in a published letter on Monday that party leaders denounce Trump’s refusal to concede the election, calling it a dangerous and anti-democratic assault on U.S. institutions.
“By encouraging President Trump’s delaying tactics or remaining silent, Republican leaders put American democracy and national security at risk,” said the group, which included officials from the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Trump.