There was drama in Michigan Tuesday night when two Republicans on the Board of Canvassers refused to certify the vote in Wayne County— which includes the nearly 80% Black city of Detroit—only to abruptly back down in the face of outrage.
The board members, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, initially voted against certifying the count of 867,409 ballots cast in the county on Nov. 3, news site MLive.com reported. The two Republican canvassers’ singling out of the Detroit poll books as not being accurate enough was met with intense backlash from public commenters watching the online meeting.
“You have extracted a Black city out of a county and said the only ones that are at fault is the city of Detroit, where 80% of the people who reside here are African Americans. Shame on you!” said Rev. Wendell Anthony, the head of Detroit branch of the NAACP.
President Donald Trump praised the board's initial vote on Twitter.
"Wow! Michigan just refused to certify the election results! Having courage is a beautiful thing. The USA stands proud!" he wrote.
The certification process is normally a routine task, the Associated Press reported. And the board’s split vote along party was unprecedented, a local columnist noted.
“I have covered a LOT of elections. The results are never perfect. There is always some human or machine error. I have never experienced a board not certifying an election,” Nancy Kaffer of the Detroit Free Press wrote on Twitter.
After the public comment period, one of the Democratic canvassers motioned to certify the results while calling on the Michigan Secretary of State to conduct an audit of the unbalanced precincts in the county, MLive reported. In the second vote, the board unanimously voted to certify the results.
Joe Biden won by a 2-1 margin in the county.