In a last-minute twist, a Detroit-area county reversed its deadlock and unanimously certified the election tally with a demand that the state conduct an audit of mismatched numbers.
The Wayne County Board of Canvassers was initially tied up on Tuesday and said it was deadlocked in its decision to certify the county’s ballot count, although just hours after doing so, it switched its decision under public pressure, with the two Republicans joining the two Democrats on the board in certifying the election.
Six hours into the meeting, the group came to the compromise that moved forward the certification, according to the Detroit News. The board asked Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office to audit the results in some of the precincts given that 70% of Detroit’s 134 absentee ballot-counting boards were out of balance. The mismatched numbers reportedly ranged from one vote to more than four votes.
Immediately after news broke that the board had been deadlocked, Republicans began to hail the move, noting that it gave them more time to look into allegations of electoral misconduct in Wayne County. There was also intense scrutiny from Democrats, who said the two GOP board members were playing partisan politics.
“Today's action is a blatant attempt to undermine the will of the voters. The process, however, will move forward,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
After the vote not to certify the election, the board's Republican chairwoman, Monica Palmer, said she would be amenable to certifying some of the results from the county’s jurisdictions but not Detroit and other locations that had mismatched poll books.
Chris Thomas, the former director of elections for Michigan who served as an adviser to Detroit’s clerk during 2020’s election, criticized the initial decision and hit back against Palmer’s comments about selective certification, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“I think that’s absurd. I think that would make a mockery of the situation. To open the door to selective canvassing would be a huge disservice to the election process,” he said.
Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox had praised the initial deadlock in a statement minutes after it was announced.
“The people of Michigan deserve to know what happened in Wayne County on Election Day and the days following,” she said.
The county has been at the center of several lawsuits, including a federal lawsuit by the Trump campaign.
According to the latest unofficial tally, President-elect Joe Biden won the state of Michigan by about 146,000 votes.
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