DETROIT – The Michigan Secretary of State’s office said in a statement Thursday that there is no legal mechanism for two Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers to rescind their votes casted for certification.
“There is no legal mechanism for them to rescind their vote. Their job is done and the next step in the process is for the Board of State Canvassers to meet and certify,” said secretary of state spokeswoman Tracy Wimmer, the AP reports.
The Secretary of State office’s statement comes after a whirlwind of a week for the Wayne County Board of Canvassers. First, the two Republican members of the board -- Monica Palmer and William Hartmann -- refused to certify the results on Tuesday. That deadlocked the board at 2-2. The state was ready to take over the certification process from there. However, the duo then reversed their decision that same evening.
Palmer and Hartmann said they had concerns with what they called “independent comprehensive audits” and with out-of-balance precincts. They said there were discrepancies they were deeply concerned about.
As the Republicans agreed to certify the county’s election, the Michigan Secretary of State was asked to conduct an audit of any Wayne County precincts with unexplained mismatching vote totals. Benson said she doesn’t believe a request for an audit is binding.
Effort to rescind votes
Then, on Wednesday, Palmer and Hartmann signed affidavits in an effort to rescind their “yes” votes. In her affidavit, Palmer said “the Wayne County election had serious process flaws which deserve investigation. I continue to ask for information to assure Wayne County voters that these elections were conducted fairly and accurately.”
Hartmann said in an affidavit, “late in the evening, I was enticed to agree to certify based on the promise that a full and independent audit would take place. I would not have agreed to the certification but for the promise of an audit.”
The board vice chairman, Jonathan Kinloch, told the New York Times “that vote was final ... that vote was binding.” He went on to say, “you can’t leave and then decide after a meeting adjourned that you want to decide from your living room that you don’t like the vote and sign something that says you’re under duress. We’re always under attack.”
Benson had this to say:
“Essentially you saw two individuals on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, who have a ministerial responsibility to certify the county canvass of election results, refusing to do so on baseless claims, and that were ultimately clerical errors that occurred in nearly every election in nearly every jurisdiction.”
Benson said the Wayne County results have been certified. The Michigan Board of State Canvassers has until Nov. 23 to certify the election itself.
“This statewide audit will be accompanied by the routine local performance audits that will review the accuracy and process of elections in local communities, as have been carried out following the November 2019 election and May 2020 election. And as always, under state law our department conducts these audits after the Board of State Canvassers has certified the election. This is because it is only after statewide certification that election officials have legal access to the documentation needed to conduct such audits,” reads a statement from Benson on Thursday. “Importantly, while the Risk Limiting Audit is a proactive, voluntary, and planned action our office is taking to confirm the integrity of our elections and identify areas for future improvement, local performance audits consider clerical errors identified before and on election day, in addition to issues identified during canvasses. This a typical, standard procedure following election certification, and one that will be carried out in Wayne County and any other local jurisdictions where the data shows significant clerical errors following state certification of the November election.”
Statement from Michigan Democratic Party
The Michigan Democratic Party released the following statement on behalf of Chair Lavora Barnes regarding the Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers attempting to reverse the certification of the county election results:
“Rather than recognizing and apologizing for their conduct as members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann are attempting to reverse their decision again after certifying the election results on Tuesday evening. As we witnessed at the meeting earlier this week, it was abundantly clear that Chair Palmer has absolutely no idea what the role of the canvassing board is and no understanding of what her duties are as the Chair. And though she and Hartmann reversed their initial misguided vote at that meeting, they are now attempting to circumvent the canvassing process in Michigan by signing baseless affidavits that make outrageous claims against their fellow board members and the voters that bravely and boldly participated in the meeting on Tuesday. It is clear that Palmer and Hartmann are simply kowtowing to the GOP party leadership. There is no legal basis to their claims nor does there exist a path for them to “take back” their vote. Certifying all election results for the state is now in the hands of the Michigan Board of Canvassers.
Monica Palmer issued a statement yesterday and in it, claimed “Democrats went off the hinges trying to suggest we wanted to suppress the Black vote, and that was not the case.” Racist conduct and acts of racism cannot be excused or denied because the perpetrator of the conduct or act declares that their intent was not racist. Chair Palmer’s conduct and comments at the Board of Canvassers’ meeting on Tuesday were racist. The fact that she claims now to be unable to understand that is nothing more than further reason for her to remove herself from that body and from public service entirely. The time for silence on these matters is indeed over. If she declines to resign, she should be removed. Ignorance is not an excuse for racist conduct. There is no political courage in the statement she issued, she continues to be misguided by GOP party leadership, and her furtherance of this issue will only invite more outrage.”
Michigan GOP says canvassers received threats
“After hours of threats and slander by Democrat plants, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers was intimidated into certifying the election results, despite 70% of Detroit’s absentee counting boards having irregularities,” said Michigan Republican Party Chairman Laura Cox. Cox continued, “I applaud these canvassers for trying to rescind their certification votes. The Michigan Republican Party condemns the actions of Democrats and we will continue to fight for transparency and integrity in Wayne County elections. The Republican canvassers simply want to extend the canvass to provide more answers and a fair, accurate election count. That is reasonable action. I condemn the threats and intimidation that happened. There is no place in decent society for mob rule.”
Getting nowhere in the courts, President Donald Trump’s scattershot effort to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory is shifting toward obscure election boards that certify the vote as Trump and his allies seek to upend the electoral process, sow chaos and perpetuate unsubstantiated doubts about the count.
The battle is centered in the battleground states that sealed Biden’s win.
In Michigan, two Republican election officials in the state’s largest county initially refused to certify results despite no evidence of fraud, then backtracked and voted to certify and then on Wednesday flipped again and said they “remain opposed to certification.” Some Republicans have called on the GOP statewide canvassers to so the same. In Arizona, officials are balking at signing off on vote tallies in a rural county.
The moves don’t reflect a coordinated effort across the battleground states that broke for Biden, local election officials said. Instead, they seem to be inspired by Trump’s incendiary rhetoric about baseless fraud and driven by Republican acquiescence to broadsides against the nation’s electoral system as state and federal courts push aside legal challenges filed by Trump and his allies.
Still, what happened in Wayne County, Michigan, on Tuesday and Wednesday was a jarring reminder of the disruptions that can still be caused as the nation works through the process of affirming the outcome of the Nov. 3 election.