Republican Electors locked out of Michigan capitol as GOP House leader refuses to name opposing slate

Republican electors in Michigan were blocked from entering the Capitol Building in Lansing on Monday to cast ballots opposing Democrat Joe Biden for president, a move that was supported by the GOP speaker of the House.

Videos posted to social media show state police acting on a closure order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and GOP House and Senate leaders, blocking the Republican electors from entering after informing them that electors had already been admitted.

“The Electors are already here, they’ve been checked in,” a state police officer explains to GOP electors as he and other officers bar entrance to the building.

“Not all of them,” one elector responds.

In another video, the same officer tells the electors he’s not going to get “into a political debate” as they continue to press him to allow them into the building.

“If you have a problem, you can contact the Governor’s office, the Speaker of the House, [or] the Senate majority leader,” the state police officer added.

In a lengthy statement, Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R), who traveled to Washington, D.C., last month with Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey to meet with President Trump, said he worked hard to reelect him but that he couldn’t support naming a competing set of electors because he feared doing so would destroy the country.

https://twitter.com/LeeChatfield/status/1338533420628992001

“Our republic has lasted because of a deeply held belief in our norms and institutions and adherence to our Constitution,” Chatfield’s statement began.

“I worked hard to get President Trump reelected this year. I did everything I could. He has done an incredible job for our nation,” he continued. “He put our country first and accomplished more than many other presidents have before him.”

He also said he agreed that the president had a right to “pursue his options” after the election including taking “every legal step available to contest” the results, adding that the Michigan legislature looked into “reports of fraud” following the election.

“We issued subpoenas. We sent record retention letters to clerks. We had hearings. We brought in President Trump’s legal team. Even Dominion [Voting Systems] is coming in this week. We’ve diligently examined these reports of fraud to the best of our ability,” Chatfield continued, going on to note “irregularities” occurred in the “recent election that needs more attention.”

But, he added, “If there’s fraud, we punish it. If there’s not, we move on.”

“This has led to a national conversation over the Legislature’s role in choosing the electors. I’m a states’ rights guy, so I’m happy to have this conversation. But the Legislature in Michigan chose decades ago to award our electors to the winner of the popular vote,” the speaker wrote.

He noted that he “personally” thinks that the legislature “could pass a resolution” that would change “the manner in which electors are appointed,” but that in 2000 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled “that once created the right to a popular vote for President becomes fundamental, and the exercise of a fundamental right can’t be infringed retroactively for due-process reasons.”

“Maybe they were right. Maybe they were wrong. But that was the Court’s decision. And it still stands today,” Chatfield went on.

“I can’t fathom risking our norms, traditions, and institutions to pass a resolution retroactively changing the electors for Trump, simply because some think there may have been enough widespread fraud to give him the win,” the speaker said. “That’s unprecedented for good reason. And that’s why there is not enough support in the House to cast a new slate of electors.

“We fear we’d lose our country forever. This truly would bring mutually-assured destruction for every future election in regards to the Electoral College. And I can’t stand for that. I won’t,” he added.

“I know this isn’t the outcome some want. It isn’t what I want, either. But we have a republic if we can keep it. And I intend to.”

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Jon Dougherty

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