The Wayne County Board of Canvassers 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.
The deadlock will likely kick the responsibility of certifying the county’s results to the secretary of state’s office and the Board of State Canvassers, which will then have 10 days to canvas and certify the results.
The failure to certify is a public relations win — albeit likely a temporary one — for Republicans led by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTucker Carlson assures viewers his show ‘not going anywhere’ following presidential election Trump senior advisers dissuaded president from military strike on Iran: report Senators clash on the floor over wearing masks: ‘I don’t need your instruction’ MORE, who has waged a campaign to malign the election results in Michigan and other battlegrounds over baseless allegations of voter fraud.
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 BidenTucker Carlson assures viewers his show ‘not going anywhere’ following presidential election Trump senior advisers dissuaded president from military strike on Iran: report Senators clash on the floor over wearing masks: ‘I don’t need your instruction’ MORE upon official certification.
The GOP hailed the county panel’s decision to deadlock, claiming it backs up their spurious claims of “widespread” fraud and irregularities in vote counting.
“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 TlaibThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by UAE – US records 1 million COVID-19 cases in a week; governors crack down Pelosi faces caucus divisions in Biden era Ocasio-Cortez tweets displeasure of Manchin after he attacks ‘crazy socialist agenda’ MORE (D), who represents the area, saying they “put politics above their duty to our residents.”
It’s plain and simple, folks. The Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers put politics above their duty to our residents. Suggesting that all of Wayne County can be certified, EXCEPT for Detroit, is horrifying racist and a subversion of our democracy.
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) November 17, 2020
“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 WhitmerStanford seeks distance from Trump adviser over coronavirus comments Overnight Health Care: Moderna says coronavirus vaccine is 94.5 percent effective | Biden slams Trump for lack of cooperation on vaccine plans | Trump officials preparing to move forward with major step to lower Medicare drug prices State GOP lawmakers say they’ll seek to impeach Whitmer 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.
My statement on the actions taken during today’s meeting of the Board of Wayne County Canvassers. pic.twitter.com/Vb2TRpiLdJ
— Jocelyn Benson (@JocelynBenson) November 17, 2020
Updated at 8:24 p.m.