Two members of a four person board in Wayne County, Mich., tasked with certifying election results have reversed course on their refusal to certify following accusations of political motivations and racism by Democrats.
Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, who serve as the two Republicans on the four member board of canvassers charged with validating the vote, offered no explanation for why they changed course, but abruptly did so Tuesday evening.
About two hours before, the two were lambasted in a heated Zoom call after the four person board, made up of two Democrats and two Republicans, reached their 2-2 vote deadlock on certifying the results.
President Trump praised the effort in a tweet, writing, “Having courage is a beautiful thing. The USA stands proud!”
Wayne County is a Democratic stronghold, and Biden carried it by an over 2-1 margin. He also won the state of Michigan by 146,000 votes.
The state has 83 county canvassing boards which were all required to certify election results by Tuesday so the Board of State Canvassers could have the results finalized by Nov. 23.
Palmer had argued that poll books in certain precincts in Detroit were not in “balance,” meaning that the number of votes tabulated did not match the number of voters who signed in at the polls.
“If you don’t have an accurate list of voters to start with, how are you supposed to know what list to tabulate from? We can’t have a tradition of having these unbalanced precincts,” Palmer said.
After the vote, she suggested willingness to certifying results for jurisdictions besides Detroit. The offer, coming after her refusal to certify the other results, was panned by Democrats statewide.
“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,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said in a statement following the decision.
Jonathan Kinloch, one of the two Democrats on the panel, argued during the meeting that the discrepancies were caused by “human error,” and went on to call it “reckless and irresponsible” to not certify the results.
“I’m actually appalled to be sitting here today,” Allen Wilson, the second Democrat on the board, noted after.
After the Zoom call technically concluded and the deadlock was announced, it was opened up to the public for comment, and attendees were quick to voice their frustration.
Ned Staebler, a Michigan business owner and poll watcher in the county, decried both Palmer and Hartmann as racist.
“The Trump stain, the stain of racism that you, William Hartmann and Monica Palmer, have covered yourself in, is going to follow you throughout history,” Staebler said, not mincing words when it came to his views on their decision.
“You will forever be known in southeastern Michigan as two racists who did something so unprecedented that they disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of black voters in the city of Detroit, because they were ordered to,” he continued, going on to note that the two had no qualms about certifying results in a nearby city that was 95 percent white.
“Just know when you try to sleep tonight that millions of people around the world on Twitter know the names William Hartmann and Monica Palmer as two people completely racist and without an understanding of what integrity means or a shred of human decency.”
Staebler went on to remark that the two would not succeed in their effort to not certify the results, because, “The law isn’t on your side, history won’t be on your side, your conscience will not be on your side and, Lord knows, that when you go to meet your maker, your soul is going to be very, very warm.”
In his diatribe, Staebler noted that back in August less than 50 percent of the ballots were valid for recount, but now “72 percent” are.
Staebler was not the only one to voice his outrage during the meeting.
The Rev. Wendell Anthony, a prominent local pastor who leads the Detroit NAACP branch, decried the two and their actions a “disgrace.”
“You have extracted a Black city out of a county and said the only ones that are at fault is the city of Detroit, where 80% of the people who reside here are African Americans. Shame on you!” the reverend said, his voice rising in volume.
President Trump, meanwhile, is standing firm that the state should not certify its results, tweeting a series of messages Tuesday into Wednesday on the matter.
“Flip Michigan back to TRUMP. Detroit, not surprisingly, has tremendous problems!” he wrote in one of the posts.
With Post wires
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