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Is democracy under duress? Oakland University, UM experts weigh in

DETROIT – The United States has had close presidential elections before, but the 2020 General Election feels different.

Some experts see reasons for concern as hyper-partisan fights seem to buck the norms of Democracy.

Professor Richard Primus is a Constitutional Law expert at the University of Michigan.

“As Americans, we’ve been pretty lucky for the most part. Our elections have been played by rules -- even with sharp elbows and lies -- when we count the votes, we declare a winner,” Primus said.

Primus said the problem in 2020 is there’s a breakdown in the norms of being willing to accept the outcome of an election.

The simple act of two members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers picking and choosing which results they want to certify is deeply concerning to Professor Peter Trumbore, Chair of the Political Science Department at Oakland University for so many reasons.

“The idea that they would certify all the votes in Wayne County, except those from Detroit -- when there were serious abnormalities in Liviona, for instance, a mostly white suburb -- but they chose to focus on Detroit,” Trumbore said. “It stands to reason that this is an attempt to disenfranchise and ultimately suppress the vote.”

Republicans, Monica Palmer of Grosse Pointe Woods and William Hartmann of Wyandotte first refused to certify the election, then agreed to certify the election if there would be an audit and then decided to rescind their certification. There is reporting that President Donald Trump reached out directly to them overnight.

RELATED: Michigan Secretary of State says GOP canvassers can’t legally rescind Wayne County election certification vote

But the damage is already being done because if you can successfully get enough people to choose to believe they have been cheated or slighted and they are unwilling to recognize the winner, whether they voted for them, or not -- democracy is damaged.

“This is the only time in the 200 plus year history we have had a president that is willing to burn the place down,” Trumbore said. “I think what this is showing us is that everybody’s vote is at risk.”

The experts basically indicate that for people who want to continue to have a choice in their leadership and to choose elected leaders who more closely represent how they are governed, this is the time to speak to your elected leaders and tell them to uphold the vote to ensure that democracy lives to have votes on another day.


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