Republican businessman and twice-defeated U.S. Senate candidate John James cast doubt on the integrity of the November election Monday while unsuccessfully seeking to delay the certification of Michigan’s election results.
James has not conceded after losing Michigan’s U.S. Senate race by 92,300 votes, according to results that were certified Monday by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers. James, in a letter, and his attorney Charles Spies, who addressed the board personally, asked canvassers to hold off certifying the November election result by two weeks so various unproven allegations of fraud and “irregularities” can be investigated.
Members of the board, comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats, said they are legally obligated to certify results from Michigan’s 83 counties and do not have any authority to seek an audit.
The board voted 3-0 to certify the election result after hearing from election officials, lawmakers and residents. Republican board member Norm Shinkle abstained from voting and called on the Michigan Legislature to investigate the state’s election process.
James acknowledged “the outcome of my race is not likely to change” in videos posted to Twitter on Sunday. However, James said it would be “selfish” to concede and is instead motivated to restore public trust in the results.
In a letter to the board, James said he would “accept the will of the people once the will of the people — not the will of the power — has been established.” James’ campaign could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon and declined several attempts to interview James since the election.
“We agree: The people of the state of Michigan deserve election outcomes that they can trust,” James wrote in a letter to the board. “In order to maintain that trust, the state owes both ballot access and ballot integrity. If both are not provided in balanced proportion, then the one side will always feel that they have not only lost but they have been cheated. This is a danger to Democracy.”
Courts have thrown out several lawsuits filed by President Donald Trump and other groups that unsuccessfully raised allegations of fraud. Election officials in Wayne County repeatedly vouched for the integrity of Detroit’s election results.
Michigan Elections Director Jonathan Brater advised the Board of State Canvassers to certify the November election results Monday. Brater said there have been no large-scale irregularities found, other than “typical human error that is always a part of the process.”
James’ campaign sent a 30-page letter to the board asking for an audit of Wayne County’s results. The document included allegations of unbalanced poll books, improper storage of ballots, flaws in the processing of absentee ballots and other issues.
The Republican businessman noted that 70% of Detroit’s precincts were not balanced, preventing those precincts from being recounted. James said this result “wouldn’t have been accepted for elections in Iraq, and the people of Detroit, and Michigan, shouldn’t accept it either.”
However, the mistakes have been attributed to human error. Daniel Baxter, who oversaw Detroit’s absentee counting process, said there was a total imbalance of about 600 ballots across the city’s precincts.
James earned 12,734 votes in Detroit, losing in the city by 214,700 votes. James lost in Wayne County by 322,200 votes.
Spies, an attorney representing James, said Detroit has long been known to encounter errors and mistakes in past elections. He pushed for the board to hold off on certifying the results “to get a grasp on what happened in Wayne County.”
Aaron Van Langevelde, a Republican and vice-chair of the board, said the board has no legal authority to seek an audit. Spies disagreed, arguing that state law does not “expressly” prohibit an audit as part of a statutory obligation to “ascertain and determine the result of an election.
Van Langevelde, an attorney who works for House Republicans, said Spies’ interpretation of the law is incorrect.
“I found nothing about authority for us to delay certification because we’re waiting for more accurate results; I found nothing about making certification contingent on an audit; I have found nothing that gives us the authority to review complaints the fraud.” Van Langevelde said.
“I think the law is pretty clear here. I don’t see anything where we’re given the authority to act as a court or act as a prosecutorial agency. We’re a simple board. That’s tasked with reviewing these returns and certifying them.”
James is raising funds through a legal expense fund created with the Republican National Committee and Trump’s campaign treasurer. The Trump campaign created its own legal fund and has been aggressively fundraising from supporters in November.
It’s unclear how much money James has raised through the legal fund, but financial reports are required to be made public later this year.
The Board of Canvassers’ vote delivered another blow to Trump’s attempts to question the integrity of the 2020 election in Michigan and other states. Trump has also claimed James won Michigan’s U.S. Senate race.
Mary Ellen Gurewitz, an attorney representing the Michigan Democratic Party, criticized James for raising doubts about the election while addressing the board on Monday. Gurewitz said the James campaign repeated allegations that were dismissed in various legal challenges and is aligned with a “racist campaign” directed by Trump to disenfranchise Black voters in cities like Detroit.
James said “I’m not doing this for the president” in a video posted to Twitter Sunday.
“Whether you like it or not, when half the voters in our state believe we have the most secure elections in U.S. history and the other half believe they were cheated, we have a problem,” James said.
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