Thursday, December 3, 2020

Duty or Party? For Republicans, a Choice on Whether to Enable Trump

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In Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump has less opportunity to try to block certification than he does in Michigan and Wisconsin, where he has requested recounts in two counties. After the state’s 67 counties certify their votes — the deadline is Monday — they go to Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, who has sole power to certify state results.

In Michigan, the president’s opportunity is limited if not nonexistent. On Friday, the State Bureau of Elections submitted its formal report recommending that the canvassing board affirm Mr. Biden’s win. Errors in some vote tabulations, which Mr. Trump has seized upon, were “attributable to human error,’’ and “did not affect the actual tabulation of votes,” the elections bureau said.

That, said Christopher Thomas, an election adviser to the City of Detroit, means the canvassing board is obligated to affirm the vote. “The law doesn’t say you can decide or not — the law says if you get certified returns you go ahead and do what you’re supposed to do, ”he said.

As Monday’s vote approaches, Mr. Shinkle, the Republican board member, finds himself in a tight spot. In contrast to past cases, he said, “I’ve got many more so-called conservatives saying bad things about me.” He said he had some unresolved concerns about the vote totals in Detroit, where there were discrepancies with roughly 350 votes out of more than 250,000 cast.

His wife, Mary Shinkle, provided an affidavit for Mr. Trump’s federal lawsuit to stop the certification of results in Wayne County, which the campaign dropped on Thursday.

Mr. Shinkle said he is his own counsel, and that his primary goal is to be able to look in the mirror and feel good about his decisions. “I can’t let any other individual be involved in that decision,” he said. “I just have to do the best that I can based on what’s ethical and legal.”

Trip Gabriel and Katie Glueck contributed reporting.

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