Republican canvassers thoroughly shamed for ‘racist,’ ‘historically shameful’ assault on democracy in Wayne County

click to enlarge President Donald Trump demanded election officials stop counting votes at the TCF Center in Detroit on Nov. 4. -
President Donald Trump demanded election officials stop counting votes at the TCF Center in Detroit on Nov. 4.

Republicans sank to a new low Tuesday evening when two members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, without a shred of evidence of election fraud, voted against certifying November’s election results.

The 2-2 deadlock, along partisan lines, was an unprecedented assault on democracy that threatened to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, drawing strong condemnation from Democrats. President Donald Trump called it “a beautiful thing,” and the Michigan Republican Party cheered the vote.

But hours later, the board’s two Republicans – Monica Palmer and William Hartmann – reversed course, agreeing to certify the results but called on the state’s secretary of state to conduct an independent audit.

Now the Board of State Canvassers must certify the election results by Nov. 23.

Seemingly unaware that the board had reversed itself, Trump celebrated the deadlock Tuesday night.

“Wow! Michigan just refused to certify the election results!” Trump tweeted. “Having courage is a beautiful thing. The USA stands proud.”

On Wednesday morning, Trump bemoaned the certification and continued to make blatantly false claims.

“At first they voted against because there were far more VOTES than PEOPLE (Sad!),” Trump tweeted. “Then they were threatened, screamed at and viciously harassed, and were FORCED to change their vote, but then REFUSED, as American patriots, to sign the documents.”

Democrats admonished the two Republican board members.

“In refusing to approve the results of the election in Wayne County, the two Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers have placed partisan politics above their legal duty to certify the election results,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “The people have spoken: Joe Biden won Michigan by more than 140,000 votes. Today’s action is a blatant attempt to undermine the will of the voters.”

Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans said the partisan vote was “a slap in the face of our democratic process” and pointed out that judges have rejected the baseless allegations of voter fraud or irregularities.

“There has been no proof offered, no evidence of voter fraud uncovered by Republicans that has withstood the impartial eye of our judicial system,” Evans said. “The arguments brought by partisan Republicans are specious and have been rejected by level-minded judges in Wayne County and across the country. It is time to respect the rule of law.”

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, called the initial deadlock “unnecessary drama, filed by partisan games and discriminatory views.”

Progress Michigan, a liberal advocacy group, said the refusal to certify the election results was “a racist attempt to disenfranchise Black voters in Detroit,” noting that Palmer suggested the board certify all the results except for Detroit’s.

“This is a racist, right-wing power grab fueled by partisan politics and Trump’s last-ditch efforts to ignore the will of the people,” Sam Inglot, executive director of Progress Michigan, said. “What happened at the Wayne County Board of Canvassers meeting was racist, partisan and an unprecedented move to ignore the will of the people.”

If the board had not reversed itself, “it would have been a historically shameful act,” Mayor Mike Duggan said.

“Glad to see common sense prevailed in the end,” Duggan said.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes called the original vote “an outrageous display of partisan posturing.”

“For the Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers to buy into conspiracy theories and completely disregard the will of the voters in Michigan is not only shameful but a complete dereliction of duties,” Barnes said. “It was made clear by the comments during the meeting by Palmer and Hartmann, that they have no true understanding of the task they have been charged with and zero understanding of Michigan statutes governing recounts.”

Joe Biden won Michigan by more than 145,000 votes. In Wayne County, Biden trounced Trump 68%-31%, with more than 863,000 votes cast.

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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