Our ignorance in this instance was an indicator of the health of our democracy. Like thousands of other public servants across the country, the members of the Board of State Canvassers are partisan officials to whom we have entrusted a nonpartisan job: the management and oversight of elections. The system may be peculiar, but it has worked, and it worked again this year. Secretaries of state of both parties, county judges, tireless vote counters and state boards like Michigan’s have managed a successful election, with a record number of Americans voting despite the challenge of a pandemic. Some of these officials undoubtedly rejoiced at the results, some undoubtedly despaired; they all did their jobs.
Now President Trump is attempting to foul this quintessentially American structure of self-rule, inducing Republicans to conspire in his lies about election fraud and overturn the free and fair results of the election. For the most part, he has been failing, as local and state officials have shown an integrity lacking in Republicans on the national level. His target Monday is the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, which is scheduled to meet to certify the results in their state, which Democrat Joe Biden won by the healthy margin of 154,000 votes. Ronna McDaniel, the servile chair of the Republican Party, and her Michigan counterpart, Laura Cox, on Saturday called on the board to delay certification. Their ostensible justification: “numerical anomalies and credible reports of procedural irregularities.”
As usual, there was no substantial evidence. Officials found only minor anomalies in Detroit affecting a small number of votes, and affidavits alleging irregularities were so weak that Trump campaign lawyers dropped the lawsuit based on them. Mr. Trump lobs sweeping allegations of a “rigged” and “stolen” election; his enablers such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) nod solemnly about letting him make his case — and judges across the country point out, again and again, that there is no case.
The latest such rebuke came from federal Judge Matthew W. Brann in Pennsylvania, and it’s worth reading his opinion if you can spare the time. Judge Brann, a conservative Republican before his appointment to the bench, noted that the Trump campaign was asking him to nullify almost 7 million votes.
“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption, such that this Court would have no option but to regrettably grant the proposed injunctive relief despite the impact it would have on such a large group of citizens,” the judge wrote.
“That has not happened. Instead, this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more.”
Yes, and our people, laws and institutions deserve more. We hope that Michigan’s board on Monday performs its work honorably. And we hope that when this is all over, Americans remember who defended democracy, and who joined in the campaign to upend it.