Michigan House, Senate close offices due to threats ahead of electors' meeting

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News
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Lansing — Citing "safety and security concerns," the Michigan House and Senate will close their offices in downtown Lansing on Monday as presidential electors meet in the state Capitol.

On Sunday night, House and Senate officials sent notifications about the closures to members and staff. At 2 p.m. Monday, the state's 16 presidential electors will convene in the Senate chamber to cast their votes for Democratic President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Some are expecting protesters in support of Republican President Donald Trump to gather outside the building, which will be closed to the public. 

Michigan State Police, in medical masks, on the sides of the lawn of the Michigan Capitol.

Amber McCann, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said Sunday night the Senate closed its offices based on "recommendations from law enforcement." The decision was not based on anticipated protests but on "credible threats of violence," McCann said.

"Due to safety and security concerns, the Senate and all Senate spaces in downtown Lansing will be closed Monday, December 14," the Senate notification said. "The Capitol, Binsfeld Office Building, and Senate offices within Boji Tower will be closed."

The notification to House staffers said, "(O)nly those needed for the Electoral College will be permitted in the Capitol Building."

Thousands of pro-Trump protesters rallied in Washington, D.C., over the weekend as the president's campaign continues its push to discredit and overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election based on unproven claims of voter fraud. The demonstrations led to dozens of arrests, several stabbings and injuries to police officers, according to the Associated Press.

Biden won Michigan 51%-48%, or by 154,000 votes. The Board of State Canvassers certified the results on Nov. 23. But supporters of the president have filed lawsuits and called for Republican lawmakers to intervene in the awarding of the state's 16 presidential electors.

Michigan Democrats and electors have said Monday's event is being done without people in the gallery of the state Senate chamber and the building closed due to security reasons given the political climate and COVID-19 restrictions.

The Michigan Democratic Party said in a statement the meeting would be live-streamed to keep everyone safe. 

"The Electoral College will be broadcast live on three different platforms — Michigan Senate TV (stream 1), WLNS and on Gov. Whitmer's Facebook page," the statement said. "We invite everyone to join us from the safety of their homes beginning at 2pm on Monday, December 14 to watch this historic event."

cmauger@detroitnews.com

Staff Writer Leonard Fleming contributed.

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