PHOTO CREDITS: KILLEEN DAILY HERALD
In an abrupt turn of events Tuesday night, Michigan’s largest county unanimously voted to certify election results.
The Wayne County Board of Canvassers voted in favor of certifying the county’s election results after a 2-2 deadlock earlier Tuesday evening, numerous sources reported. The second unanimous vote came after two Republicans voted against certification earlier in the day due to concerns with fraud in Detroit, but later switched positions. The board also agreed to direct Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to conduct an audit of precincts in the county that had discrepancies, according to CBS News reporter Adam Brewster.
The vote comes amid a lawsuit that alleges local elections officials oversaw fraud in Detroit, specifically at the TFC Center, according to the Detroit Free Press. The Michigan Court of Appeals rejected the lawsuit and thus the request to delay the certification. Republican challengers have alleged that Detroit election workers included ballots cast by ineligible voters and ballots received past the return deadline. Absentee ballot poll books at 70% of Detroit’s 134 absentee counting boards were found to have unexplained discrepancies, such as mismatches varying from one to more than four votes, according to the Detroit News.
Biden beat Trump in Wayne County by more than a 2-1 margin and won Michigan by 146,000 votes, according to unofficial results. Trump and his allies, however, have launched an array of attacks on the integrity of the election and numerous lawsuits aimed at revealing voter fraud. Each state certifies its election results and the Electoral College meets Dec. 14 to codify the results.
The initial move by Republicans to push forward in their efforts to investigate allegations of voter fraud and irregularities was quickly condemned by Democrats, election experts, and spectators at the Wayne County Board of Canvassers online meeting, who called the action “a dangerous attempt to block the results of a free and fair election.” The state vote certification process is usually a routine task, though the initial resolution in Wayne County propels Biden toward formal victory in Michigan.
Tuesday’s chaotic developments are likely to sow more doubt among Trump’s supporters in the election results. Republicans are also trying to stop formal certification of the election results in other swing states, including Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
In Michigan, Republican poll challengers have spent days launching unsuccessful litigation. They claimed fraud during absentee ballot counting at a Detroit convention centre, but two judges found no evidence and refused to stop the canvassing process (Toronto Star).
On Tuesday, the Arizona Republican Party asked a judge to bar Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, from certifying until the court issues a decision about the party’s lawsuit seeking a new hand-count of a sampling of ballots. In a more rural county, Mohave, election certification was delayed until Nov. 23 in a sign of solidarity with the remaining election challenges in the state. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, argued in Pennsylvania that the certification there should be delayed over concerns of voter fraud.
Monica Palmer, the Republican chair of the committee, reportedly said in regards to the initial vote that they did not have accurate information on the jurisdictions, and that she would consider certifying the election results for some jurisdictions except Detroit and others with unexplained discrepancies. Tuesday was the last day that the board could certify the election results, meaning the board would need to send all election records to the secretary of the Board of State Canvassers, which would certify the results if the board voted not to. The deadlock also could have delayed the certification of Michigan’s election results (Daily Caller).
Democrats decried the first decision made by the board’s two Republicans to not certify the results. Democratic Board Vice Chairman Jonathan Kinloch said the discrepancies were the result of “human error” and called it “reckless and irresponsible” to not certify the results. Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also blamed prioritizing politics for the decision, calling it a “blatant attempt to undermine the will of the voters,” the Detroit News reported. Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib blamed racism for the decision to single-out Detroit from certification. Detroit had previous discrepancies at voting precincts in the 2016 election, when election officials couldn’t reconcile vote totals for 59% of precincts, an issue stemming from too many votes.
Certification of the Nov. 3 election results in each of Michigan’s 83 counties is a step toward statewide certification by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers and the eventual awarding of 16 electoral votes. “Glad to see common sense prevailed in the end,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said after the Wayne County reversal. “Thank you to all those citizens who spoke up so passionately. You made the difference!”
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE