DETROIT – Two Republicans on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers are trying to rescind their vote to certify the county’s presidential election results.
Monica Palmer and William Hartmann signed affidavits in an effort to rescind their “yes” votes Wednesday evening. Hartmann and Palmer voted not to certify the election results earlier this week, before reversing course and certifying the results during a heated meeting.
UPDATE: Michigan Secretary of State says GOP canvassers can’t legally rescind Wayne County election certification vote
- The Wayne County Board of Canvassers certified the county’s election results Tuesday night despite an initial deadlock among board members.
- Two Republican Wayne County Board members -- Monica Palmer and William Hartmann - first refused to certify the results, but 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.
- The Michigan Secretary of State has been asked to conduct an audit of any Wayne County precincts with unexplained mismatching vote totals, but Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said she doesn’t believe a request for an audit is binding.
- The Michigan Board of State Canvassers has until Nov. 23 to certify the election. If they don’t, it will go to court.
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.”
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.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said she doesn’t believe a request for an audit is binding.
“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,” said Benson.
Before the vote, Palmer said she would certify every community in Wayne County, except Detroit. She did not speak to reporters following the meeting.
Palmer plans to hold a news conference in the near future.
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.
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.
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.”
AP: Trump targets Wayne County vote certification in late bid to block Biden
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.
There is no precedent for the Trump team’s widespread effort to delay or undermine certification, according to University of Kentucky law professor Joshua Douglas.
“It would be the end of democracy as we know it,” Douglas said. “This is just not a thing that can happen.”