Live election updates, Day 3

Laina G. Stebbins graphic for election 2020

Good morning! The Michigan Advance is here to bring you news about outstanding election results, legal action and more.

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3 weeks ago

4:46 pm

Lasinski chosen as House minority leader

By: Allison Donahue

House Democrats selected Rep. Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Twp.) to succeed Minority Leader Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) for the 101st Legislature beginning in January. 

Lasinski currently serves as a member of the caucus leadership team.

This will be her third and final term in the state House, and she will serve as only the third female leader in the Michigan House of Representatives. All have been Democrats, starting with Dianne Byrum.

“I am honored to have earned the trust and support of my colleagues to be the Democratic Leader-elect,” Lasinski said. “I am looking forward to working together in the 101st Legislature to build an agenda and set a strategy to deliver results for the people of the State of Michigan.”

State Rep. Donna Lasinski and House Democrats announce their unemployment benefits package, Sept. 3, 2019 | Nick Manes

This will be the first woman-to-woman leadership transition in Michigan legislative history.

State Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) will remain as House minority floor leader, the No. 2 position in the caucus.

Democrats did not pick up any seats in Tuesday’s election and the chamber will be split 58-52 in favor of Republicans. Rep. Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) is the incoming speaker.

3 weeks ago

3:23 pm

Peters accepts victory in Michigan Senate race, James refuses to concede

By: Andrew Roth

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) accepted victory in his reelection race Thursday, which has been called by the Associated Press.

“Through all of the noise and all of the smears and all the negative ads, Michigan voters cut through all of that and said we want a practical, common sense problem solver,” Peters said. “Someone who’s going to roll up their sleeves, go to Washington, and work to get things done.”

Peters was running against Republican businessman John James, who previously lost to U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) in 2018.

But James, who ran closer races than expected against both Stabenow and Peters, refused to concede the election, citing, without evidence, possible voter fraud.

“While Senator Peters is currently ahead, I have deep concerns that millions of Michiganders may have been disenfranchised by a dishonest few who cheat,” James said.

Peters, Slotkin, Meijer win in close contests

“When this process is complete, I will of course accept the results and the will of the people, but at this time there is enough credible evidence to warrant an investigation to ensure that elections were conducted in a transparent, legal and fair manner. Those who object likely have something to hide.”

James did not provide evidence for the claim.

James had previously retweeted a tweet from GOP consultant Stu Sandler prematurely claiming victory in the race and arguing that counting ballots was “stalling the process and cheating the system.”

Peters called the allegations “sad and pathetic.”

“They lost. It’s very clear. Just count the votes,” Peters said. “I understand Mr. James has been running for four years. He’s lost twice now. So I understand that doesn’t sit well with him. But this is where you see someone’s character, when they come up and realize that they need to accept the vote of the people of the state of Michigan.”

James lost to Peters by more than 87,000 votes.

John James, Michigan GOP Senate candidate, speaks at an election night event after winning his primary election at his business James Group International August 7th, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

President Donald Trump has also made unfounded claims of possible voter fraud, tweeting to “STOP THE COUNT!” and “STOP THE FRAUD!” (If ballots were to stop being counted when the president tweeted that, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would win with 270 electoral votes.)

Republican congressional candidate Erik Esshaki, who lost to U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester), also refused to concede his race on Thursday, saying he wants “all the legal votes to be counted and verified for accuracy,” something that is already in the process of happening. The AP called the race for Stevens Thursday morning.

Peters echoed the messaging of Biden, saying that the country needs to heal.

“This country has to come together, particularly right now, when we’re in the middle of this pandemic,” Peters said. “This is a significant crisis. And the way we have always gotten through crises in the past in this country – and we’ve had many very significant crises we could go through – every time we come together as a country, every time we come together as Michiganders, and understand that is our strength when we all lock arms together, we can get through anything.”

3 weeks ago

2:00 pm

GOP scores another 58-52 majority in state House

By: Susan J. Demas

As the Advance previously reported, Republicans maintained control of the state House. Now with ballot counting done in Michigan, it looks like they will enjoy a 58-52 majority — which is where they were at after the 2018 election.

This also means that Republicans will now control the chamber for 12 straight years. The Senate, which was not on Tuesday’s ballot, is divided in favor of the GOP, 22-16.

State Rep. Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) will be the next House speaker, replacing term-limited Lee Chatfield (R-Levering), as the Advance reported.

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

However, there were some seat flips on both sides.

GOP pickups are:

  • 96th District: Republican Timothy Beson beat state Rep. Brian Elder (D-Bay City)
  • 48th District: Republican David Martin beat Rep. Sheryl Kennedy (D-Davison)

Democratic pickups are:

  • 61st District: Democrat Christine Morse beat Republican Bronwyn Haltom
  • 38th District: Democrat Kelly Breen beat Republican Chase Turner

In other competitive races, there was no party change:

  • 19th: Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) beat Republican Martha Ptashnik
  • 23rd: Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Twp.) beat Republican John Poe
  • 39th: Rep. Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Twp.) beat Democrat Julia Pulver
  • 43rd: Rep. Andrea Schroeder (R-Independence Twp.) beat Democrat Nicole Breadon
  • 45th: Republican Mark Tisdel beat Democrat Barb Anness
  • 71st: Rep. Angela Witwer (D-Delta Twp.) beat Republican Gina Johnsen
  • 73rd: Republican Bryan Posthumus beat Democrat Bill Saxton
  • 79th: Rep. Pauline Wendzel (R-Watervliet) beat Democrat Chokwe Pitchford
  • 104th: Republican John Roth beat Democrat Dan O’Neil

3 weeks ago

1:10 pm

As Trump challenges Michigan results, GOP Senate leader says he will ‘follow the law’ with electors

By: Laina G. Stebbins

President Donald Trump has long made it clear that if presidential election results did not skew in his favor, he would raise the alarm about voter fraud and other scenarios that he could wage a legal fight against.

Before former Vice President Joe Biden won Michigan, but was drawing closer to 270 electoral votes with wins in other battleground states like Wisconsin, Trump made unfounded claims about the validity of those states’ ballot-counting processes and filed lawsuits in several.

The lawsuit in Michigan is currently pending in the Court of Claims before Judge Cynthia Stephens. However, there are other routes that Republicans could take to steer the already-decided outcome in Michigan toward a Trump win.

Could the Legislature help hand Trump reelection, even if he loses Michigan?

As the Advance reported in early October, some legal experts have been studying the possibility that in the case of a disputed election, GOP-led state legislatures could potentially overrule the will of the voters by refusing to select Biden electors.

They could instead select a panel of pro-Trump electors and order them to cast their ballots for the incumbent president — a move that would technically be legal under Article Two, Section One of the U.S. Constitution.

Michael Anton, a former national security official in the Trump administration, even raised the possibility himself in an essay for a conservative publication Wednesday. In it, Anton suggested that Republicans should get ready for a “coup” by Democrats to steal the vote, and that “GOP officials in close states … [should] refuse to seat Biden electors” in the event of a “fake count.”

Spokespersons for state House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) and state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), who are both strong Trump supporters, did not provide direct answers to the Advance’s previous inquiries in October about whether the GOP leaders and their caucuses would support choosing pro-Trump electors in the case of a disputed election.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield (left) and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (right) | Allison Donahue

Asked again Thursday about the possibility now that Trump is fighting Michigan’s results in court, Shirkey spokesperson Amber McCann said simply: “The Senate Majority Leader will follow the law.”

Chatfield spokesperson Gideon D’Assandro, who was combative in responding to the question in October and did not provide a substantive answer, did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Stephens is holding a motion hearing in Trump’s lawsuit against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson this afternoon.

3 weeks ago

11:49 am

Biden wins a majority in Michigan, per unofficial returns

By: Susan J. Demas

Democratic nominee Joe Biden has achieved something President Trump never did in Michigan: He won a majority of votes.

Unofficial returns as of Thursday morning show Biden has a 3-point lead, winning the state with 2,788,425 votes, or 50.6%. Trump won 2,639,035 votes, or 47.8%.

Biden wins Michigan, edges closer to Electoral College victory 

Trump’s vote percentage in Michigan is not far off from what it was in 2016 when he took the state by 10,704 votes. Trump won 2,279,543 votes, or 47.3%, and Democrat Hillary Clinton had 2,268,839 votes, or 47%.

Michigan divides its electoral votes in a winner-take-all system, so Biden will be awarded 16 electoral votes in the Electoral College. As of Thursday morning, he has at least 253 votes in media estimates.

Last updated:11:54 am

3 weeks ago

11:25 am

Stevens wins in Michigan’s 11th

By: Susan J. Demas

The Associated Press has called the 11th Congressional District election for freshman U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester) as of 11:09 a.m. Thursday.

That means all 14 congressional races have been called in Michigan and there is a 7-7 delegation split between Democrats and Republicans in the next Congress.

U.S.. Rep. Haley Stevens | Andrew Roth

Stevens earned 50.2% to Republican Eric Esshaki’s 47.8% in the district spanning Wayne and Oakland counties.

As the Advance previously reported, Democrats scored other big congressional victories in Michigan. U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) narrowly defeated Republican John James. U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) fended off a challenge from Republican Paul Junge in the 8th District.

Peters, Slotkin, Meijer win in close contests

Republican Peter Meijer, won in the open 3rd Congressional District against Democrat Hillary Scholten. U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) staved off a challenge in the 6th District from state Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo).

3 weeks ago

11:07 am

Trump shares inaccurate map of Michigan election results, calls it fraud. It was a typo.

By: Allison Donahue

President Donald Trump and a slew of other conservative Twitter accounts shared an inaccurate electoral map of Michigan on Wednesday and claimed that hundreds of thousands of votes for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden were fraudulently “found.”

The reality? Shiawassee County Clerk Caroline Wilson made a mistake entering the data and the error was quickly fixed.

However, it wasn’t fixed before Trump retweeted the inaccurate map and wrote “WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?” on Wednesday morning.

Twitter has since flagged the information in the tweet as “disputed and might be misleading.”

Trump counter-protest of Bernie Sanders car rally for Joe Biden in Warren, Oct. 6, 2020 | Andrew Roth

According to the unofficial results reported in the map, 138,000 ballots had come in and all of them went to Biden. 

What really happened, Shiawassee County election clerk Abby Bowen told FactCheck.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that monitors accuracy in political news, is that “there was an extra zero added on the end when Biden’s votes were keyed in.”

Shiawassee County reported Biden received 15,371 votes, but accidentally typed in that he received 153,710 votes. The county only has 55,612 registered voters.

“This is why we have the checks and balances,” Bowen said. “This is no kind of voter fraud. It was literally just a typo.”

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson called on members of the media and people watching election results “to help us ensure accurate data and information is what is discussed in the ecosystem right now as opposed to false or misleading claims.”

The data was shared through a map by Decision Desk HQ, an election data-gathering firm, which has since updated the map to show the accurate data. 

President Donald Trump’s campaign on Wednesday afternoon filed a lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims to halt the counting of remaining ballots in the state, claiming his team didn’t have “meaningful access” to the counting process. 

As of Thursday morning, multiple news outlets have called the race in Michigan for Biden and he currently holds at least 253 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

3 weeks ago

9:23 am

Wentworth to lead the GOP-led state House

By: Allison Donahue

Current state House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) announced Thursday morning that Rep. Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) will be filling his seat at the head of the state House.

Chatfield, who is term-limited, said Republicans will officially choose Wentworth through a caucus vote on Thursday.

“He’s been an incredible leader already for this caucus for four years,” he said on the “Morning Wakeup” with Dave Akerly on WILS-AM.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield (left) and Rep. Jason Wentworth (right) | Nick Manes

Wentworth, a U.S. Army veteran and former military police officer, was first elected to the House in 2016 and is the current speaker pro tempore and chair of the House Select Committee on Reducing Car Insurance Rates.

Chatfield said that he is “incredibly thrilled” about holding the Republican majority in the Legislature.

“It’s time for all of us in Michigan to put our big boy pants on and move forward,” Chatfield added.

Democrats, with an assist by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, fought to regain control over the House, but lost a few key races to make that happen. 

Chatfield said he maintained “as good of a relationship as you can” with the governor during his time in office. 

Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) sued Whitmer in May over her emergency powers during the pandemic and have had a contentious battle over the handling of COVID-19 in Michigan.

3 weeks ago

7:32 am

Benson: More than 5.2M votes cast in Michigan as counting wraps up in ‘secure’ election

By: C.J. Moore

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a Wednesday evening update that ballot tabulation for the 2020 general election is “by and large complete” and just a handful of precincts have yet to report results to counties.

More than 5.2 million Michiganders voted — a record turnout for the state — and 3.3 million of them used an absentee ballot, Benson said. 

Benson painted a straightforward picture of the vote-counting process: In-person voting locations on Tuesday were “islands of calm” and tabulation that started at 7 a.m. was “smooth, efficient, secure and accurate.” Despite her initial estimation that counting might not be fully complete until Friday, tabulation of Michigan ballots was virtually wrapped Wednesday evening, she said.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson gives an election update in Detroit, Nov. 3, 2020 | Andrew Roth

Benson also pushed back against claims of interference and urged constituents to be wary of election misinformation in the days ahead. She dismissed a lawsuit by the Trump campaign to stop vote counting in Michigan as “frivolous.”

“However the days ahead play out, the health of our nation and our democracy requires us to come together in respect of the will of our voters and the sanctity of our elections process,” Benson said. “In Michigan, I am proud to confirm that all valid ballots, and only valid ballots, have been counted securely and accurately and that our election results reflect the will of the people.”

Just hours earlier, a crowd filled with Trump and GOP supporters, some from out of state, gathered at the TCF Center in Detroit — where poll workers were counting the city’s ballots — to demand counting be stopped. 

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey issued a statement on the subject: “We will not allow anyone to distract us from the job at hand. Our charge is to remain calm, focused and deliberate as we continue the task at hand.”

GOP challengers chant “Stop the count!” | Ken Coleman photo

Benson also weighed in on the crowd’s demands. She said processing of ballots at the TCF Center was “transparent” from when it began, adding that representatives from both the Republican and Democratic parties were able to observe what was happening.

“As for the folks who showed up in the late hours outside to cause a lot of distraction and make a lot of noise, I mean I’ll just say if they thought they were going to intimidate or stop anyone from doing their job inside the TCF Center, then they don’t know Detroit,” Benson said. 

The next step is the canvassing part of the electoral process, which involves “a bipartisan process of checks and balances” that will proceed over the next 13 days, Benson said. This is key to how the state verifies elections and works to declare official results.