Trump claims Michigan election board was 'viciously harassed' to certify Biden vote in Detroit

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President Trump, after boasting that two Republican officials had blocked certification of the votes in Wayne County, Mich., on Tuesday and praising their “courage,” on Wednesday morning claimed they were “FORCED” to reverse themselves by being “threatened, screamed at and viciously harassed.”

But the upshot was that the four-member board of canvassers backtracked and unanimously certified results showing President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the county, the largest in Michigan, which includes the city of Detroit. The certification makes it virtually certain that Biden has carried the state and its 16 electoral votes.

The board of canvassers in Wayne County met Tuesday to certify the results of the Nov. 3 election in what is usually a routine procedure. But two Republicans on the panel — Monica Palmer and William Hartmann — voted against certifying them, leading to a brief deadlock with an uncertain outcome. There was an outraged response on social media, including a warning by a well-known Detroit entrepreneur that the two would “forever be known in southeastern Michigan as two racists.” Ten-year-old posts featuring caricatures of President Barack Obama and attributed to Hartmann’s Facebook page were posted by a user on Twitter.

The two Republicans based their initial refusal to certify the results on discrepancies in certain Detroit precincts between the numbers of voters and the numbers of ballots tabulated. In theory those should be the same, but results that are “out of balance” by small amounts are not unusual and do not generally signify tampering or fraud, or change the final results appreciably when they are corrected.

The unofficial results showed that Biden won Wayne County by a margin of about 323,000 votes.

Trump has refused to admit defeat there and in numerous other jurisdictions, claiming in a tweet, “I win Michigan!” Twitter tagged the tweet as “disputed.”

President Trump speaks during a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Nov. 3. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
President Trump at a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Nov. 3. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

At one point during the meeting, Palmer made a motion to “certify the results in the communities other than the city of Detroit,” which is predominantly Black and voted overwhelmingly for Biden.

The move triggered immediate outrage among the city’s voters and state officials, who accused the GOP of trying to disenfranchise them.

During a contentious Zoom call with constituents, Mark Brewer, a former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, said Palmer’s motion would have blocked certification for Detroit but certified the results in Livonia, where the Black population is 4.4 percent.

“Monica Palmer sat there and said she’s willing to approve the results of the lily-white city of Livonia, which had the second-highest number of out-of-balance precincts, but she won’t certify the city of Detroit,” Brewer said. “There is no reason to single out the city of Detroit for this racist treatment.”

“You have extracted a Black city out of a county and said the only ones that are at fault is the city of Detroit, where 80% of the people who reside here are African Americans,” the Rev. Wendell Anthony, a well-known pastor and head of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, said. “Shame on you!”

Ned Staebler, a local tech-industry CEO who tweets as @Ned BLACK LIVES MATTER Staebler, posted a video in which he said the two Republicans would “forever be known in southeastern Michigan as two racists who did something so unprecedented that they disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Black voters in the city of Detroit.”

People gather at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing for a "Stop the Steal" rally in support of President Trump on Nov. 14. (Photo by Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images)
People gather at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on Nov. 14 for a "Stop the Steal" rally in support of President Trump. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images)

Trump is refusing to concede his election defeat, challenging the results with baseless claims of voter fraud and ordering officials not to cooperate with the transition.

With his legal options evaporating, the president and his allies are now trying to slow down the formal vote-certification process in several states before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14.

On Twitter Wednesday, he claimed falsely that the discrepancies between the number of votes cast and voters on rolls mean he won the state of Michigan. Officials say the discrepancies are minor, account for a few hundred votes and happen in virtually every election.

“In Detroit, there are FAR MORE VOTES THAN PEOPLE,” Trump continued. “Nothing can be done to cure that giant scam. I win Michigan!”

Biden carried Michigan by 148,000 votes.

While Trump’s attacks on the election’s integrity will not overturn the results, they appear to have succeeded in sowing doubts about the results, at least within his own party.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Wednesday found 52 percent of Republicans believe Trump “rightfully won” the U.S. election but that it was stolen from him by widespread voter fraud.

Just 26 percent of Republicans said they thought Biden’s win was “legitimate.”


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