DETROIT – The Wayne County Board of Canvassers unanimously voted to certify the November election results Tuesday and asked the Michigan Secretary of State to conduct an audit of any Wayne County precincts with unexplained mismatching vote totals.
The two Republican canvassing board members first balked at certifying the election in a 2-2 vote, but a short time later, they certified after getting a commitment to audit the election results.
The Michigan Board of State Canvassers has until Nov. 23 to certify the election. If they don’t, it will go to court.
Dec. 8 is considered the “safe harbor” deadline for certification.
President Donald Trump tweeted repeatedly about the canvassers and called the two Republicans who voted against certification patriots.
The two Republican canvassers, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, certified the vote Tuesday night.
Palmer, 40, is the Board of Canvassers’ chairperson. She’s also a Grosse Pointe Woods political activist. An ethics complaint has been filed against her for alleged conflict of interest due to that work.
The Wayne County Ethics Board is looking into that complaint.
When Local 4 went to her home to ask about the vote change, no one answered the door.
Hartmann, 62, is a Wyandotte businessman who has been on the board since 2015. When asked why he changed his vote, he said it was because of the inclusion of an independent audit.
Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President of the NAACP Detroit Chapter, said the vote was an example of racism.
“The Republican representatives on the Wayne County Board of Elections canvassers, by their stalling rejection of the will of the people until folks from around the city, weighed in with their objections are a case in point,” Anthony said.
Republican House speaker Lee Chatfield disagrees.
“I have sent letters to Antrim County, we’ve sent letters to Kent County,” Chatfield said. “We’ve sent letters to the city of Detroit, right? That is wide-ranging, hitting different regions. This has nothing to do at all with where people live and the races they are.”
The state board was expected to meet Wednesday, but that meeting has been postponed.
“The state Board of Canvassers have a ministerial role, an administrative role and the law very clearly says that they shall certify the elections once the counties do so,” said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “They really don’t have a lot of wiggle room to overturn decisions that were made at the county level. At this point, I believe every county has voted to certify the results.”
However, Chatfield said he wants a deeper dive into alleged irregularities because of pending legal action and election result audits agreed by the Secretary of State.
“We’re investigating reports of irregularities. We’re investigating reports of fraud because I want to provide peace of mind to the Michigan voters and certainly we still have integrity in our election process,” he said.