Like a good attorney, Van Langevelde meticulously questioned a number of expert guest speakers to ascertain if they had dissenting views of the board’s authority under state law. Time and again, they affirmed his position. The body did not have power to audit or investigate or recount; that could be done only by distinct bodies after certification was complete. The job of the board of state canvassers was narrowly to examine the certified results from all 83 counties and then, based on the relevant vote totals, certify a winner of Michigan’s 16 electoral votes. The one time he was challenged—by Spies, the political superlawyer representing John James’ U.S. Senate campaign—Van Langevelde calmly brushed his recommendations aside, telling Spies, “I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you on that.”
If this young canvasser’s rebellion against the entire Republican Party apparatus was surprising, what came next was all too predictable. Within minutes of Van Langevelde’s vote for certification—and of Shinkle’s abstention, which guaranteed his colleague would bear the brunt of the party’s fury alone—the fires of retaliation raged. In GOP circles, there were immediate calls for Van Langevelde to lose his seat on the board; to lose his job in the House of Representatives; to be censured on the floor of the Legislature and exiled from the party forever. Actionable threats against him and his family began to be reported. The Michigan State Police worked with local law enforcement to arrange a security detail.
All for doing his job. All for upholding the rule of law. All for following his conscience and defying the wishes of Donald Trump.