DETROIT (AP) — Michigan’s largest county can’t revoke its certification of election results, officials said Thursday after two Republicans who approved Joe Biden’s local landslide wanted to revert to their initial stance of refusing to bless the vote.
Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, the two Republican canvassers in Wayne County, said they only voted to certify the results after “hours of sustained pressure” and after getting promises that their concerns about the election would be investigated.
“We deserve better — but more importantly, the American people deserve better — than to be forced to accept an outcome achieved through intimidation, deception, and threats of violence,” they said in a statement Wednesday night. “Wayne County voters need to have full confidence in this process.”
State officials said the certification of the Detroit-area vote will stand.
“There is no legal mechanism for them to rescind their vote. Their job is done, and the next step in the process is for the Board of State Canvassers to meet and certify,” said Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for the Michigan secretary of state.
The four-member state board, which is expected to meet Monday, is split with two Democrats and two Republicans — the same makeup as the Wayne County board.
President Donald Trump’s campaign believes the latest about-face by Palmer and Hartmann is legitimate. It withdrew a federal lawsuit challenging the Detroit-area results, citing the pair’s statement.
Palmer and Hartmann initially voted against certification Tuesday, leaving the Wayne County Board of Canvassers deadlocked at 2-2 along party lines. Palmer complained that certain Detroit precincts were out of balance, meaning that absentee ballot books did not match the number of ballots cast.
The GOP move drew an immediate rebuke from the public and injected partisan politics into the business of an unsung panel that is supposed to confirm the will of the voters. A person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press that Trump reached out to Palmer and Hartmannon Tuesday evening after the revised vote to express gratitude for their support.
In a statement, the pair reported being the target of threats, which they reported to law enforcement.
Trump “was checking to make sure I was safe after seeing/hearing about the threats and doxxing,” Palmer told the Detroit Free Press, referring to the practice of publicly disclosing someone’s personal information.
Biden crushed Trump in Wayne County by a more than 2-1 margin on his way to winning Michigan by 146,000 votes, according to unofficial results. His victory reversed Trump’s 2016 gains in the industrial Midwest and put the Democrat on the path to achieving the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House.
The county canvassers later voted again and certified the results,4-0. Then, on Wednesday, Palmer and Hartmann signed affidavits saying they believe the vote should not be certified.
Jonathan Kinloch, a Democratic canvasser, said he heard passion — not threats — during the stormy Tuesday night meeting when the audience on Zoom was allowed to speak after the 2-2 tie and before the unanimous vote.
“I heard people basically being very assertive in demonstrating their outrage, but it happens all the time,” Kinloch said. “This was a very important meeting to the city, the county, and it impacted a lot of folks.”
There has been no evidence of widespread voting fraud in Michigan or any other state. Federal and state officials from both parties have declared the 2020 election safe and secure. But Trump and his allies have spent two weeks raising false claims of fraud and refusing to concede to Biden.
Associated Press writer Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.