The Wayne County Board of Canvassers initially decided 2-2, with two Democrats voting in favor and two Republicans voting against it, citing examples of examples found to be inconsistent during the post-election review process in the Detroit area. The referendum was immediately condemned by Democrats and non-party experts, who said the election in Detroit was clean.
President-elect Joe Biden won Michigan by a margin of more than 148,000 votes, made possible by a strong showing in Wayne County, where he received 322,000 votes over President Donald Trump.
The initial vote against the certificate caught the attention of the president, who issued a series of tweets praising the GOP members of the canvassing group as “courageous”. He spread false claims about massive voter fraud, and said officials in the state should “flip Michigan back to TRUMP”.
Trump made a lengthy attempt to overturn the election results through lawsuits and the Electoral College – and one of Trump campaign’s legal advisers initially said the refusal to certify the results should “open the door to the Republican state legislature (sic) electing voters.” People have repeatedly said they will respect the vote and will not interfere in the process.
Announcing their decision to certify the results, the board also called on Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to conduct a detailed audit of the terrain in Detroit. In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “Guomo Prime Time”, Benson said he would conduct the audit and praised the county board’s decision to modify itself and certify the results.
“The truth seems to have won in this situation,” he said. “Basically, the evidence was clear: there was no malpractice, no evidence of widespread fraud, there were actually minor clerical errors. … I think they did the right thing, they did their duty, they certified the election to the voters in Wayne County.”
Even after the initial party tax stalemate, experts doubted that Wayne County’s results would eventually be deducted from the statewide count. This could jeopardize Biden’s Michigan victory – but CNN predicts he will win 306 election votes, meaning he will still be the next president even if he fails to get Michigan’s 16 votes.
During a Wayne County board canvassing meeting, Vice President Jonathan Kinloch called the previous stalemate “irresponsible and irresponsible.” Kinloch is one of two Democrats on the group.
“This board, for many years, is proud not to allow politics to show in the actions we take,” Kinloch said. “There is no reason why we should not certify this election. I believe politics is here today and I always think that this board should live with the fact that we have allowed external, irrelevant issues. I hope this decision will affect today, not change, and bring about an outcome that will not happen.”
Monica Palmer, the group’s Republican leader, explained why she had previously voted against certification.
“Based on what I saw and went through in the poll books on this canvas, I believe we do not have complete and accurate information in those poll books,” Palmer said.
At one point, Palmer suggested that the board certify the rest of the district’s decisions, with the exception of Detroit, which was not pursued by the board.
“I would be prepared for a resolution to certify communities other than the city of Detroit,” Palmer said, referring to other parts of Wayne County.
When the meeting opened for public comment, Wayne County citizens expressed their frustration with the board’s initial decision to delay certification of results for several hours.
The head of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, the Rev. Wendell Anthony was highly critical of Palmer’s suggestion that Detroit be exempted from certification of county results.
“You have separated a black city from a district. The city of Detroit alone is against me. 80% of the people who live here are African Americans. You are ashamed,” Anthony said. “You are ashamed of leading to this level of corruption. You have denied your right to sit even in the seat you occupy. You are a disgrace because it is associated with the ability to hold a free and fair election in this country.”
Edith Lee-Payne, who worked as a polling staff supervisor at the DCF Center in Detroit, laid out a step-by-step process on how the city’s absentee votes were counted, believing that any suggestions related to fraud would be discredited.
He shared that at one point a Republican referendum challenger approached him fearing for his life. Looking ahead to how much the certification delay hurt her, Lee-Payne reflected on joining the march in Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King when he was 12 years old.
“I marched with Dr. King and I take it with pride, I say with pride,” Payne said. “Everyone in Detroit, in Wayne County, and I do what you do – because I have to take this personally – I mean, I really have no words.”
An Air Force veteran and law student at the University of Michigan, who was an indiscriminate observer at the DCF Center on November 4, was emotional when the board’s decision downplayed the rights he sought to defend.
“As someone who has served in the military, I was willing to sacrifice my life for every American to have the right to vote. I thought it was something we all Americans believed in. It breaks my heart to see some. It seems my fellow Americans do not accept this,” Joseph Zimmerman said.
In a statement written after the initial stalemate, Benson said it was “common” for some circles to have minor discrepancies with their poll books. But he said, “Importantly, this is not an indication that any votes were cast or counted improperly.”
Election experts and Michigan locals responded with shock to the original vote.
“People have spoken: Joe Biden won Michigan by a margin of more than 140,000 votes,” Democrat Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “Today’s move is a blatant attempt to undermine the will of the electorate. However, the process will move forward. Under Michigan law, the State Board of Canvassers is now expected to complete the work and certify the results they have completed.
The GOP-led Michigan Senate voted in September to support a resolution confirming that state voters must be loyal to vote for the presidential candidate as certified by Michigan election officials, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkie’s Vice President Amber McCann confirmed.
This story and its title were updated on Tuesday with additional improvements.