Calls to silence the voices of Black voters fall flat
Following hours of comments from public officials, poll watchers and from other residents, the state board of canvassers voted to certify all of the ballots from Michigan’s 83 counties as they were charged to do. The vote comes in the wake of efforts by President Trump to influence the process by pressuring members of the Wayne County board of canvassers then meeting with Republican leadership in the state legislature.
While 3 members of the bipartisan board voted to certify, Norman Shinkle voted to abstain. His ability to remain impartial had earlier been called into question because his wife, Mary Shinkle, had filed an affidavit in a failed lawsuit to stop the counting of votes at Detroit’s TCF Center.
“In a democracy, we expect all votes cast to be counted and certified,” said Rev. Dr. Steven Bland, Jr., President of the Baptist Pastors Council of Detroit & vicinity and senior pastor of Liberty Temple Baptist Church. “While I’m happy to hear of the certification of Michigan’s record 5.5 million votes, including 3.2 million early votes, I’m quite disheartened by the direct attack on Wayne county voters, largely represented by its black and brown citizens. As goes Detroit, so goes Michigan. The statement that all votes should be certified except for those in Detroit is a direct indication that in 2020, we are still facing the same levels of voter suppression and oppression as our ancestors. However, we will not be deterred because we know that, as a people, we’ve gone from picking cotton to picking presidents!”
Objections to certification in today’s hearing centered on routine, clerical errors in Detroit precincts, a city which is 80% Black. At the same time, it was also pointed during the comment period that precincts in Livonia, which has a 90% white population, had larger discrepancies but was never called into question. Of the more than 800,000 votes cast in Detroit, the discrepancy was only about 200 votes.