Election 2020: Michigan Republican Back Down, Certify Detroit Results

A person carries empty ballot boxes as votes continue to be counted at the TCF Center the day after the presidential election in Detroit, Mich., November 4, 2020. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Republican elections board members in Michigan backed down Tuesday and agreed to certify Detroit’s election results hours after initially refusing to do so in a bid to delay Joe Biden’s victory over President Trump in the battleground state.

The two Republican members on the Wayne County elections board, which handles the results from Detroit, a Democratic stronghold, originally said their decision not to certify was based on voting irregularities, citing conflicting figures from many of the county’s precincts regarding the number of votes cast and the number of voters who voted.

The GOP members reversed their stance, however, after backlash from voters and state officials who accused them of attempting to steal their votes. The elections board, composed of two Republicans and two Democrats, unanimously certified the results Tuesday evening but also called on Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to audit all the precincts in Detroit that were found to contain discrepancies in the voting numbers.

“Based on what I saw and went through in poll books in this canvas, I believe that we do not have complete and accurate information in those poll books,” Monica Palmer, the Republican chair of the board, said of her earlier vote against certification.

President Trump praised the two Republicans for “having courage” when they temporarily blocked Biden’s win in the county. After they agreed to certify the results, the president wrote on Twitter that, “at first they voted against because there were far more VOTES than PEOPLE (Sad!). Then they were threatened, screamed at and viciously harassed, and were FORCED to change their vote.”

Biden won Detroit and the rest of Michigan’s largest county by close to 323,000 votes and won the state of Michigan by about 148,000 votes, flipping the swing state to blue again after Trump won it in 2016.

Discounting votes from Detroit and the surrounding area would have threatened Biden’s grasp on Michigan’s 16 electoral votes. However, the former vice president is on track to receive 306 electoral votes, so Michigan is no longer crucial to his winning the presidency.

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