Wayne County Republicans Claim They Were Bullied Into Certifying Election, Seek to Rescind Votes

North Carolina Electoral College representatives sign the Certificates of Vote in the State Capitol building in Raleigh, N.C., December 19, 2016. (Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

Two Republicans on Michigan’s Wayne County Board of Canvassers signed affidavits Wednesday saying they were bullied into voting to certify election results and are seeking to revoke their certification, though the deadline for such action has passed.

Jonathan Kinloch, a Democrat and the board’s vice chairman, told The Washington Post it is too late for Monica Palmer and William C. Hartmann to change their minds regarding certification, as certified results have already been sent to the secretary of state in accordance with state rules.

“Do they understand how they are making us look as a body?” he said of the pair. “We have such an amazing and important role in the democratic process, and they’re turning it on its head.”

Palmer and Hartmann were involved in a stalemate over the county’s election certification process on Tuesday, before the board ultimately voted to certify results in Michigan’s most populous county. The county, which encompasses Detroit and has more than 1.7 million residents, saw Joe Biden beat President Trump by more than a 2-1 margin.

Hartmann said in an affidavit that he found that roughly 71 percent of Detroit’s 134 Absent Voter Counting Boards “were left unbalanced and many unexplained.” 

He said he expressed his concerns and said there should be an explanation if the votes did not match. Hartmann and Palmer said state officials had gone back on their earlier commitment to audit the ballots, which led to their decision to rescind.

“I voted not to certify, and I still believe this vote should not be certified. Until these questions are addressed, I remain opposed to certification of the Wayne County results,” Hartmann said in his affidavit, according to JustTheNews.

Palmer, the board’s chairwoman, noted the same discrepancy and also wrote that she faced “accusations of racism” and threats to her family.

“I rescind my prior vote,” Palmer wrote in an affidavit, according to the Post. “I fully believe the Wayne County vote should not be certified.”

She told the Post that though she first voted against certifying the results, a number of activists and elections workers spoke to the board and accused her and Hartmann of racism for questioning the results from majority-Black Detroit precincts, leaving her shaken. 

“After the vote, my Democratic colleagues chided me and Mr. Hartmann for voting not to certify,” she wrote in the affidavit. “After the vote, the public comment period began and dozens of people made personal remarks against me and Mr. Hartmann. The comments made accusations of racism and threatened me and members of my family. The public comment continued for over two hours and I felt pressured to continue the meeting without a break.”  

A poll challenger at the TCF Center in Detroit, Ned Staebler, told the pair that “the Trump stain, the stain of racism that you, William Hartmann and Monica Palmer, have covered yourself in, is going to follow you throughout history.”

He said the two would “forever be known in southeastern Michigan as two racists who did something so unprecedented that they disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Black voters in the city of Detroit.”

However, the two received support from a number of Republicans on Tuesday, including President Trump, who praised Palmer and Hartmann and, according to the Associated Press, reached out to them after the revised vote to show appreciation for their support.

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