Getting nowhere in the courts, President Donald Trump’s scattershot effort to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory is shifting toward obscure election boards that certify the vote as Trump and his allies seek to upend the electoral process, sow chaos and perpetuate unsubstantiated doubts about the count.
The battle is centered in the battleground states that sealed Biden’s win.
In Michigan, two Republican election officials in the state’s largest county initially refused to certify results despite no evidence of fraud, then backtracked and voted to certify and then on Wednesday flipped again and said they “remain opposed to certification.” Some Republicans have called on the GOP statewide canvassers to so the same. In Arizona, officials are balking at signing off on vote tallies in a rural county.
The moves don’t reflect a coordinated effort across the battleground states that broke for Biden, local election officials said. Instead, they seem to be inspired by Trump’s incendiary rhetoric about baseless fraud and driven by Republican acquiescence to broadsides against the nation’s electoral system as state and federal courts push aside legal challenges filed by Trump and his allies.
Still, what happened in Wayne County, Michigan, on Tuesday and Wednesday was a jarring reminder of the disruptions that can still be caused as the nation works through the process of affirming the outcome of the Nov. 3 election.
There is no precedent for the Trump team’s widespread effort to delay or undermine certification, according to University of Kentucky law professor Joshua Douglas.
“It would be the end of democracy as we know it,” Douglas said. “This is just not a thing that can happen.”….
In Wayne County, the two Republican canvassers at first balked at certifying the vote, winning praise from Trump, and then reversed course after widespread condemnation. A person familiar with the matter said Trump reached out to the canvassers, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, on Tuesday evening after the revised vote to express gratitude for their support. Then, on Wednesday, Palmer and Hartmann signed affidavits saying they believe the county vote “should not be certified.”
After three hours of tense deadlock on Tuesday, the two Republicans on an election board in Michigan’s most populous county reversed course and voted to certify the results of the Nov. 3 election, a key step toward finalizing President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state.
Now, they both want to take back their votes.
In affidavits signed Wednesday evening, the two GOP members of the four-member Wayne County Board of Canvassers allege 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 board, has signed a similar affidavit, according a person familiar with the document. Hartmann did not respond to a message from The Post.
Jonathan Kinloch, a Democrat and the board’s vice chairman, told The Post it’s too late for the pair to reverse course, as the certified results have been sent to the secretary of state in accordance with state rules. He lashed out at the Republicans over their requests.
“Do they understand how they are making us look as a body?” he said. “We have such an amazing and important role in the democratic process, and they’re turning it on its head.”
I am not an expert on Michigan law. I suspect that it would take a court order to rescind a certification, and in any case if the results were not certified on the county level, the state has the power to certify the results. We will see if this plays out on the state level as well.
This is very dangerous for our democracy, as it is an attempt to thwart the will of the voters through political pressure from the President. Even though it is extremely unlikely to work, it is profoundly antidemocratic and a violation of the rule of law. It’s inexcuasable.