As if the case of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers couldn't get any weirder, now this: The two Republican members want "backsies" on their Tuesday-night vote to certify the November election. One of the pair, Monica Palmer, confirmed to the Washington Post that President Trump called her after the meeting, but only "to make sure I was safe."
In affidavits signed Wednesday evening, the two GOP members of the four-member Wayne County Board of Canvassers allege that they were improperly pressured into certifying the election and accused Democrats of reneging on a promise to audit votes in Detroit.
“I rescind my prior vote,” Monica Palmer, the board’s chairwoman, wrote in an affidavit reviewed by The Washington Post. “I fully believe the Wayne County vote should not be certified.”
William Hartmann, the other Republican on the four-member board, also signed a similar affidavit.
Hartmann and Palmer are now contending that the compromise they made, after first deadlocking on certification, was backed by an empty promise that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson would audit the vote counts in Detroit. In her affidavit, Palmer now states that Benson "didn’t view their resolution asking for an audit as binding," the Post reports.
The board brought national attention to itself in its lengthy Tuesday meeting, during what is normally a routine procedure -- a discussion of the election and then a vote to certify it, i.e., make it official. When Hartmann and Palmer voted against certification, it threatened the votes of hundreds of thousands of Detroiters.
The Republicans are pinning their concern to small imbalances in a majority of precincts, where the number of votes cast does not match the number of voters in the poll books. Democrats point out these represent a very small fraction of votes cast -- around 350 in the entire city -- and are attributable to human error. They further noted that other communities had similar imbalances, but Palmer singled out Detroit; she said at the meeting she was willing to certify the rest of Wayne County's elections, but not Detroit's.
The vote led to hours of outraged public comment from Detroiters, who accused the two of racism and attempted disenfranchisement of the majority-black city, which went heavily for Joe Biden and Gary Peters in the presidential and senatorial races, respectively. The board then agreed to ask Benson for an audit, and voted to certify.
In the Tuesday night call from Trump, Palmer told the Post:
“His concern was about my safety and that was really touching. He is a really busy guy and to have his concern about my safety was appreciated,” she told The Post. She said they "didn't really" discuss the certification vote, and that there was "no pressure" to change it.