Minnesota certifies election results, while Trump exerts pressure elsewhere

Minnesota finalized its election results this week with little fanfare, in contrast to states where President Donald Trump has made a series of failed attempts to overturn the results with lawsuits, recounts and pressure.

Minnesota's little-known, five-member canvassing board voted unanimously Tuesday to certify the election results, showing President-elect Joe Biden winning the state by roughly 228,000 votes, or 7 percentage points.

"You just can’t close that gap through litigation or even recounts," Secretary of State Steve Simon, a Democrat, said in an interview. "I think that certain folks and campaigns just decided this was not a front-burner state to try to contest the election."

The board's vote was so far out of the spotlight that it was conducted via teleconference, with few people outside of keen political observers taking notice.

Trump's campaign never challenged Minnesota's election results. A group of Republican lawmakers and candidates filed a last-second lawsuit hours before the canvassing board's Tuesday meeting, but the Minnesota Supreme Court did not take up the case before the board voted.

Last week, state GOP chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan claimed "extreme abnormalities" in the results from a half-dozen Minnesota counties, but did not give evidence of any issues.

Desperate moves

With his presidency ending in less than two months, Trump has made a series of desperate moves to upend the election results in four other states, without any success.

In Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign's lawsuits have failed in court. The president briefly led the state on election night before millions of absentee ballots -- which favored Biden -- had been counted. By state law, Pennsylvania had to wait until Election Day to start counting absentee ballots.

In Georgia, the president's allies pressured Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, accusing him of bungling the election after Georgia voted for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1992.

"They’ve picked the battle. We’re doing our job," Raffensperger responded during a Fox News interview this week. "Our elections directors have been working really hard to make sure we have fair, honest elections. If you don’t like honest elections, you’ve got the problem."

In Wisconsin, the Trump campaign paid nearly $3 million to force a recount of two liberal counties, Milwaukee and Dane. While the counting continues, Biden's 20,600-vote lead in Wisconsin is virtually insurmountable.

Nowhere was the president's pressure campaign more unusual than Michigan, where Biden won by 154,000 votes.

In Wayne County, home to Detroit, two Republican canvassing board members tried to withdraw their votes to certify the election after hearing from Trump. The president then summoned the states two top GOP lawmakers to the White House for a meeting.

His allies then pressured the two Republican members of the state canvassing board not to certify the election results. The drama ended only when one of the GOP members, Aaron Van Langevelde, refused to go along with what the president wanted.

"The board’s duty today is very clear. We have the duty to certify this election," Van Langevelde said during Monday's canvassing board meeting, which played out on a Zoom video conference. "We must not attempt to exercise power we simply don’t have."

Minnesota's canvassing board is different

In contrast to other states, Minnesota's canvassing board is less partisan.

The state constitution requires the five-member panel to be composed of the secretary of state, two Minnesota Supreme Court justices, and two district court judges.

"I think having an apolitical board with judges, with justices, with the secretary of state (as the chair), is important," Simon said.

The final step for the election comes Dec. 14, when electors meet across the country to deliver Electoral College votes to the candidate who won their respective states.

In Minnesota, the 10 electors are pledged to Biden and are barred by state law from voting for anyone else. They're scheduled to meet at the state Capitol.