Michigan county reverses course, votes unanimously to certify election results

The board of canvassers in Michigan’s largest county reversed course late Tuesday, voting unanimously to certify the election results after initially being deadlocked in a party-line vote.

The Michigan secretary of state’s office confirmed that the Wayne County Board of Canvassers voted by a 4-0 margin to certify the election results in Wayne County, which is heavily Democratic and includes Detroit, and that the board is requesting that Jocelyn Benson, the state’s top elections official, investigate any discrepancies in vote totals.

The unanimous decision marks a 180-degree turn from just hours earlier Tuesday night when the panel’s two Republicans voted against certification, sparking celebrations from the GOP and an uproar from Democrats who said the initial vote was simply delaying the inevitable.

Republicans had refused to certify the election after some absentee ballot poll books in Detroit were found to be out of balance, but liberal lawmakers and activists flooded the panel with criticism given that a similar mismatch in the August primaries and general election in 2016 did not prevent the body from certifying those results. 

President-elect Joe Biden currently has a nearly 150,000-vote lead over President Trump in Michigan, which was called in Biden’s favor, and a nearly 40-point lead in Wayne County, a Democratic hub.

The county board’s reversal is just the latest setback for Trump and Republicans, who have launched at least four suits in Wayne County and several more in battlegrounds across the country seeking to alter vote counts based on spurious claims of voter fraud and other irregularities.

The timing of the reversal of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers came as some Republicans, including Trump, celebrated the board’s initial deadlock.

“Wow! Michigan just refused to certify the election results! Having courage is a beautiful thing. The USA stands proud!” Trump tweeted at around the same time as the second vote was cast.

Regardless of the second, unanimous vote, the initial refusal to certify the election results would have likely been only a temporary victory for Republicans, with Benson saying that state officials would have swiftly worked to certify the tallies themselves.

Still, Democrats hailed the reversal, crediting their base with producing the uproar needed to force the panel into a second vote. 

“We applaud this decision and are thrilled that the voices of over 800,000 Wayne County voters have been heard and their votes have been properly counted.  We were reminded tonight about the importance of speaking up and speaking out.  We are deeply thankful to all of you that took the time to share your story tonight. You made a difference,” the Michigan Democratic Party said in a statement.

Updated at 10:09 p.m.

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