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Board of canvassers in Michigan certifies election results after initial deadlock

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers initially failed to certify the election results in Michigan’s largest county Thursday after the four-member panel deadlocked at 2-2 along partisan lines.

The decision, which was made amid a flood of Republican lawsuits in the Wolverine State, came after some absentee ballot poll books in Detroit, which is located in Wayne County, were found to be out of balance. A similar mismatch in the August primaries and general election in 2016 did not prevent the body from certifying those results. 

Both of the GOP members of the panel voted to not certify the results, while the Democratic members voted to certify. 

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A short time later on Tuesday night, the same board later unanimously voted to certify the election results for Biden. 

 

Republicans have filed at least four lawsuits in Wayne County alone in an attempt to stop the count there, leaning on allegations of irregularities and claims that GOP poll watchers were unable to effectively monitor ballot counting. Democrats have rebutted the claims, maintaining that the election was run smoothly and that any irregularities would not be sufficient to overturn the nearly 150,000-vote lead in the state.

Wayne County is also heavily Democratic, and votes there are widely expected to favor President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Biden transition adds new members to coronavirus task force MORE upon official certification.

The GOP hailed the county panel’s initial decision to deadlock, claiming it backs up their spurious claims of “widespread” fraud and irregularities in vote counting. 

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“I am proud that, due to the efforts of the Michigan Republican Party, the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign, enough evidence of irregularities and potential voter fraud was uncovered resulting in the Wayne County Board of Canvassers refusing to certify their election results,” said Michigan GOP Chairwoman Laura Cox. “This action will allow more time for us to get to the bottom of these deeply troubling irregularities.”

Democrats, in turn, slammed the Republican members of the county board, with Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibBiden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks GOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' MORE (D), who represents the area, saying they “put politics above their duty to our residents.”

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"In refusing to approve the results of the election in Wayne County, the two Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers have placed partisan politics above their legal duty to certify the election results. The people have spoken: Joe Biden won Michigan by more than 140,000 votes. Today’s action is a blatant attempt to undermine the will of the voters. The process, however, will move forward. Under Michigan law, the Board of State of Canvassers will now finish the job and I have every expectation they will certify the results when the job is done," added Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerPope Francis swipes at groups protesting COVID-19 restrictions in NYT op-ed Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Oregon governor urges hosts to 'uninvite' guests MORE (D). 

Republican celebrations may be short-lived, with Michigan Secretary of State (D) Jocelyn Benson declaring state authorities would take the reins and work to certify Wayne County’s results. 

“Should the current decision of the Board of Wayne County Canvassers hold through the adjournment of today’s meeting, the Board of State Canvassers will be responsible for certifying the Wayne County election. In similar circumstances in the past, state canvassers have appointed the Bureau of Elections to carry out the processes of canvassing the vote and voter totals,” said Benson. 

“The Bureau stands ready to fulfill this duty and we expect this will address clerical errors and improve the quality of the canvass overall. It is common for some precincts in Michigan and across the country to be out of balance by a small number of votes, especially when turnout is high. Importantly, this is not an indication that any votes were improperly cast or counted,” she added.

Updated at 9:54 p.m.