In an abrupt turnaround, Michigan’s largest county on Tuesday night unanimously certified election results showing Democrats Joe Biden defeating the president of the USA Donald Trumphours after Republicans blocked formal approval of voters’ intentions.
The initial move was quickly condemned by Democrats, election experts and bystanders at the Wayne County Collectors’ Council online meeting as a dangerous attempt to block the results of a free and fair election.
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“We depend on democratic norms, including that losers accept defeat gracefully. This seems to be ending, ”said Joshua Douglas, a law professor at the University of Kentucky.
The process of certifying state votes is usually a routine task, and the final Wayne County resolution pushes Biden toward formal victory in Michigan. Still, Tuesday’s chaotic developments are expected to sow further doubts among Trump supporters about the election results and may spur Republicans in other states to try to find ways to slow down the final stages to make their defeat official.
Republicans are also trying to prevent formal certification of election results in other undefined states, including Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
Biden crushed Trump in Wayne County, a Democratic stronghold, by a margin of more than 2-1 and beat Michigan by 146,000 votes, according to unofficial results. His victory reversed Trump’s astonishing gains in 2016 in the industrial midwest and put Biden on the path to clearing the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House.
Still, Trump and his allies launched a series of unsubstantiated attacks on the integrity of the election and numerous processes aimed at delaying the formal process of certifying votes. Each state certifies its electoral results and the Electoral College meets on December 14 to code the results.
In Michigan, Trump’s allies and Republican candidates spent days initiating unsuccessful lawsuits. They alleged fraud while counting absent votes at a Detroit convention center, but two judges found no evidence and refused to interrupt the voting process.
It was against this backdrop that the Wayne County Collector’s Council met on Tuesday. In a rare and extraordinary move, they did not bless the will of voters in the Detroit area. Instead, the panel split into a 2-2 vote, with Republicans voting against certifying the results.
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Monica Palmer, one of the two Republicans, said that polls in certain districts of Detroit – a mostly black city – were unbalanced. Jonathan Kinloch, a Democrat on the panel, said the discrepancies were the result of “human error” and called it “reckless and irresponsible” not to certify the results.
There was no evidence of widespread electoral fraud in Michigan or any other state. Federal and state officials from both parties declared the 2020 elections safe and secure.
Still, Trump has spent the two weeks since election day raising false allegations of electoral fraud and refusing to give in to Biden. He loved the early developments in Michigan, tweeting, “Having courage is a beautiful thing.”
But the broader condemnation was swift, including from the meeting’s online viewers, who attacked Palmer and his Republican colleague William Hartmann during a public comment period on Zoom.
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Rev. Wendell Anthony, a well-known pastor and head of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, called his actions a “disgrace.”
“You extracted a black city from a county and said that the only culprit is the city of Detroit, where 80 percent of the people who live here are African Americans. You should be ashamed! “Anthony said, his voice rising.
Ned Staebler, vice president of Wayne State University in Detroit, said, “The racism stain that you, William Hartmann and Monica Palmer just covered, will accompany you throughout history.”
Veteran law student Joseph Zimmerman told the canvassers that it “breaks my heart” to see them undermine the “sacred right” to vote.
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After the meeting, Hartmann said that intense criticism did not prompt him to change his vote. Instead, he said he acted because the council agreed to ask the secretary of state to investigate the results of the Detroit elections.
The certification of the November 3 election results in each of Michigan’s 83 counties is a step towards statewide certification by the Michigan State Colporteur Council and the eventual attribution of 16 electoral votes.
“I’m happy to see common sense prevail in the end,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan after the Wayne County reversal. “Thank you to all the citizens who spoke with such passion. You made a difference! “
Michigan Democratic Party President Lavora Barnes called the initial 2-2 vote “blatant racism”.
At least six election-related lawsuits were filed in Michigan, the last one on Sunday in federal court. The issues raised by Trump’s allies are typical in all elections: problems with signatures, confidential envelopes and postal marks on postal ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of wrong or lost votes.
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On Tuesday, the Arizona Republican Party asked a judge to ban Maricopa County, the most populous in the state, to certify until the court issues a decision on the party’s case seeking a new manual count of a sample of banknotes. In a more rural county, Mohave, electoral certification was postponed until November 23 in a sign of solidarity with the remaining electoral challenges in the state.
Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, entered a court for the first time in decades on Tuesday to argue in Pennsylvania that certification should be delayed due to electoral fraud concerns, although no widespread fraud has been reported.
© 2020 The Canadian Press