President Trump has summoned Michigan’s top Republican state lawmakers to the White House Friday, reportedly as part of his ongoing bid to overturn the election results in the state, which President-elect Biden won by more than 155,000 votes.
But what precisely is he trying to do? And does his gambit have any chance of succeeding?
Michigan faces a Monday deadline to certify the state’s election results.
Under state law Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers must meet to review and certify the state’s election results, and the board has scheduled a meeting on Monday, Nov. 23, to do just that. The meeting comes despite Republican efforts in Wayne County to hold up certification of the county’s votes and in the wake of Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud in the county, which is home to Detroit.
Once Michigan does certify its results, a slate of electors are appointed based on which candidate won the popular vote, a process that is spelled out under state law. Those electors then meet on Dec. 14 to formally cast their votes in the Electoral College. A joint session of Congress then meets on Jan. 6 to count the electoral votes from each state and formally declare a winner.
What is Trump trying to do?
Trump is scheduled to meet with Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield at the White House on Friday ahead of the state’s certification deadline. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany suggested during a briefing on Friday that the meeting had nothing at all to do with the upcoming deadline, though Trump just this week called two GOP Wayne County election officials after they voted to certify the county’s results. The officials then attempted to rescind their certification votes the next day.
Trump’s allies, including radio host Mark Levin, have called on Republican lawmakers to appoint their own electors, but Michigan’s Republican officials have said publicly they would not overrule the will of Michigan voters.
The House GOP caucus has prepared a 732-word stock response that pushes back against Trump supporters who demand the legislature appoint its own electors, stating that state law clearly requires that electors be nominated by the party that wins the most votes.
“The law does not allow for the nomination or approval of alternative electors,” the e-mail states.
But even if they did so, and such a move was somehow upheld by the courts, Michigan’s governor could appoint a separate slate of electors, requiring Congress to determine which is valid.
What would happen if Congress were to receive two slates of electors from a state?
Fortunately, there are procedures in place for how to deal with a situation in which a state submits two sets of electors: According to federal law, both the House and Senate have to agree on which slate of electors to accept. And if the House and Senate can’t agree, the set of electors certified by the state’s governor would be counted by Congress. In the case of Michigan, it would be slate of electors certified by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat.
Additionally, members of Congress can challenge the results from any individual state, but both houses must agree to exclude any state’s votes.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.