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Opinion: It's time to stand behind election results and move on


Elissa Slotkin and Paul Mitchell  |  The Detroit News

The two of us, Republican and Democrat, disagree on many issues. But we agree — and we think most Americans agree — on a bedrock principle of democracy: that in our system, the will of the people prevails.

Joe Biden won Michigan by about 154,000 votes, according to the current unofficial results. He won enough states to clearly prevail in the Electoral College. President Donald Trump should accept those facts and allow the rest of the country to move forward. And, most importantly — the reason we are writing this joint piece: Elected leaders must recognize their role in history, respect democracy and ensure continued confidence in our elections, regardless of pressure.

We know many of our residents are disappointed by his loss. But there is simply no indication of massive fraud, wrongdoing or gross error in Michigan’s election results. Chris Thomas, probably the most knowledgeable and respected election official in all of Michigan for his service under administrations of both parties, personally watched absentee vote counting at Detroit’s TCF Center and saw no signs of error or wrongdoing. And, as the Republican former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — who lived through two full-state recounts — said earlier this month, recounts shift only a few hundred votes, not thousands. Against the 154,000-vote margin between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, there just isn’t any there there.

The continued refusal to acknowledge the election results risks corroding our democracy by literally hollowing it out. If we no longer believe in our own system — with our local elected clerks following the laws — then our ability to choose our leaders is at fundamental risk, as is our system of governing. This isn’t about any one person. This is about maintaining the system that our Founding Fathers designed, and that defines us as a nation. 

It’s because of that risk that we must call upon elected and appointed leaders in Michigan to rise above the political pressure and the conspiracy theories and to lead as if your state and your country depend on you. Because they do. We remind our colleagues at all levels of government that history will judge us all and we should all act accordingly. Doing the right thing and the hard thing are often the same thing. Let’s show the country that Michigan residents believe in our democracy more than anything else.

We need to move on as a country. The presidential transition process needs to begin in earnest. It’s critical that the Biden team be briefed on the classified details of current threats. And the health and economic fallouts from COVID-19 require immediate attention. We have work to do, and it’s time to get to it.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, represents Michigan's 8th District. Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden, represents Michigan's 10th District.