Aaron Van Langevelde, the Republican on the Michigan Board of Canvassers who voted for certifying Biden’s win in November, has spoken publicly for the first time since he made his decision, saying his “conscience is clear.”
“While some are critical of my decision to certify the election, I am convinced that I did the right thing regardless of personal or professional consequences and despite the pressures and dangers faced,” Van Langevelde said in a statement Monday. “I upheld my oath of office, told the truth and did what I could to defend the rule of law (at a time our nation desperately needs it). My conscience is clear, and I am confident that my decision is on the right side of the law and history.”
Van Langevelde said he was not renominated to the four-person, partisan board, and has no regrets. He criticized the hyperpartisan environment as one that led to threats against his family and to the violent riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“Time will tell that those who spread misinformation and tried to overturn the election were wrong, and they should be held responsible for the chaos and confusion they have caused,” he said. “What has happened over the last few months is tragic; a dangerous and dishonest attempt to undermine election results fanned the flames of discontent and put people at risk of harm, including my family, and ultimately led to violence and the loss of life. It was clear in November that the political games needed to stop — it is even more clear now.”
The obscure four-person board, made up of two Democrats and two Republicans, was thrust into the spotlight last November as it faced immense pressure in what should have been a mundane step in certifying the election results in Michigan, which Biden won by more than 150,000 votes. Ultimately, the board voted 3 to 0 to certify Biden’s win, with Van Langevelde joining the Democrats and the other Republican board member, Norman Shinkle, abstaining.
In a telephone interview, Van Langevelde drew a line between the harassment he faced last year and the siege of the Capitol on Jan. 6. He declined to detail specific threats but said “law enforcement had to get involved, and I had to take steps to protect my family.”
“There was a lot of hate and frustration directed toward the board and at me in particular,” he said. “You saw that same hate and frustration on Jan. 6 and it’s tragic.”
He said he did not receive any calls directly from President Trump before or after the meeting where he voted to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. He said he received thousands of calls and emails but declined to specify if any powerful officials applied pressure.“
“I was well prepared and 100 percent confident in my decision at the canvassing board meeting,” he said. “I was not prepared to have to take steps to protect my family.”
He said the state party did not approach him about serving another term on the board and that he had heard they were recruiting another Republican for his spot. His term expires at the end of the month.
“I fully expected to not be renominated,” he said. “It goes without saying there were a lot of people in the party that were angry with my decision.”
He added: “I am very hopeful the next appointee will follow the law as well. ... We need to emphasize the truth and put the country and the people over partisanship.”