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James asks state board to delay election certification, do audit

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James continues to deny the results of the Nov. 3 election and has requested the Michigan Board of State Canvassers delay the statewide certification of votes to do an audit.

James asked the state board not to certify the statewide election results and take two more weeks or until Dec. 7 to audit the results. Democratic U.S. Sen. Gary Peters defeated James 50%-48% or by more than 92,000 votes under the unofficial certified votes from Michigan's 83 counties.

“I submit this request because I am interested in the truth and protecting the integrity of our elections,” James said in a statement to the board. “Sometimes the truth takes time to surface, and it’s rarely easy to get to. Time is the most valuable asset we have at this stage and I ask that we take all the time reasonable and allowed — not to undermine our elections — but to improve them and boost public confidence in the results of the election.”

Peters' campaign fired back.

"What two-time failed Senate candidate John James is doing is not only frivolous, it's dangerous and undermines the very foundation of our democracy," Peters campaign spokeswoman Vanessa Valdivia said Friday. "As he continues this sinister deception, it's clear James will put Trump before Michigan even past the bitter end."

U.S. Senate candidate John James addresses the crowd in the rain before the start of the rally. President Donald Trump holds a rally in Lansing, Michigan on October 27, 2020, one week before the general election.

Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has said the statewide election results must be certified before she can legally do an audit. 

More than a week ago, the James campaign and the Republican National Committee teamed up to form a legal fund as the Army veteran opposed the victory of Democratic U.S. Sen. Gary Peters in Michigan.

The James campaign has argued that the Farmington Hills businessman was well ahead before supposedly questionable votes put Peters up in Wayne County and secured the Bloomfield Township Democrat's win. Wayne County, which includes Detroit, traditionally publishes its results later than other jurisdictions around the state.

An attorney representing James said there were irregularities that called into the question the integrity of the election during a meeting last week of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers.

In his letter to the board, James said "irregularities and abnormalities" at the TCF Center in Detroit Nov. 3 combined with challengers who felt "harassed" were signs that "the process broke down."

The board's responsibility is to "people, not party" and the state owes "both ballot access and ballot integrity," James said in the letter. 

"I will, of course, accept the will of the people once the will of the people — not the will of the power — has been established," James said in his letter.

At a post-election press conference earlier this month, Peters laughed at accusations that Democrats cheated James out of a victory and said the Republican, who also lost two years ago to U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow should not be a sore loser.

"It’s sad and it’s pathetic. They lost," Peters said then. "It’s very clear. Just count the votes. I understand Mr. James has been running for four years, he’s lost twice now. I understand that doesn’t sit well with him."

The James campaign's concerns echoes those of President Donald Trump, who has refused to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden, alleging widespread voter fraud in Michigan without solid evidence. The state courts have rejected two lawsuits about such claims, and the Trump campaign withdrew a lawsuit in Western Michigan’s federal court.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com