The Wayne County Board of Canvassers voted unanimously to certify the county's election results late Tuesday, hours after an initial party-line deadlock threatened to throw Joe Biden's win into question.
At issue were out-of-balance absentee poll books in Detroit, a recurring, but relatively inconsequential issue that has not prevented the board from advancing election results in the past. A poll book is out of balance when the number of voters do not match the number of ballots counted. Similar issues cropped up during the August primary and 2016 election.
According to the Detroit News, after initially voting against certifying the results, the Republicans changed course with the demand that the Secretary of State's office audit the absentee counting board results.
County canvasser Monica Palmer, a Republican of Grosse Pointe, had earlier suggested certifying the remainder of the county without Detroit, a move that would have effectively disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Black voters who cast ballots for Joe Biden.
The county results now move to the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, which will meet Wednesday before deciding whether to certify the state's results Monday.
Democrats will be bracing for the potential that a similar drama will unfold there. One of the two GOP canvassers on that board has told Bridge Michigan he “makes no predictions” on his vote.
Biden defeated Donald Trump in Michigan by more than 145,000 votes, an outcome Trump and his allies have sought to undermine with numerous longshot legal challenges.
Ahead of Tuesday's county vote, canvasser William Hartmann, who has a history of posting conspiracy theories and racist and Islamophobic memes to social media, suggested that Biden might not prevail despite being ahead.
"I'm reading the news on how great things are now that Biden and Harris are in as declared by the (media)," Hartmann wrote on Facebook Nov. 7. "What will happen if it doesn't happen once the official results are tallied? I wouldn't sell the farm yet."
But wait there’s more... pic.twitter.com/X9qEYO4dE6— Russ (@McNamaraWDET) November 18, 2020
Did a cruise through Wayne County Canvassing Board member William Hartmann's public Facebook posts. He's a Republican, so not a surprise he is a BIG Trump supporter— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) November 18, 2020
I'll let you judge a sample of posts I pulled from 2010. He voted not to certify Wayne County's ballots. pic.twitter.com/vGZt8mGeCF
Palmer, meanwhile, is the subject of an ethics complaint alleging she helped run a dark money political action committee involved in the Grosse Pointe school board race. Democrats say such activity disqualifies her from serving on the canvassing board.
Democrats, including Rep. Rashida Tlaib, decried the board's decision:
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
Every court on the Detroit election results has ruled that Trump’s claims of error were baseless. Had the Board of Canvassers disenfranchised 1.4 million Wayne County voters over partisan politics, it would have been an historically shameful act.— Mayor Mike Duggan (@MayorMikeDuggan) November 18, 2020