Wayne County Board of Canvassers reverses decision, certifies vote
More than 300 residents waited for hours to testify against the racist attack on democracy
In a dramatic turn of events, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers reversed itself late Tuesday night and certified the vote in Wayne County. Earlier in the night, the board had deadlocked 2-2 along party lines, which would have been the first time the Board had ever refused to certify an election. This would have set the stage to invalidate more than 800,000 votes in Detroit and Wayne County, potentially swinging the outcome of the election if not for the more than 300 people who virtually packed the online meeting and waited for hours to testify during public comment.
Residents decried the Board’s action as undemocratic and a nakedly racist attempt to disenfranchise Black and Brown voters. They were clear that the small number of clerical errors that Republicans objected to, numbering only in the hundreds, should not invalidate nearly a million lawfully cast ballots.
“It is unconscionable that 800,000 votes would be thrown out because of a few small errors. I’m glad that the Wayne County Board of Canvassers eventually found a compromise that will allow every vote to be counted,” said Kate Mason, Michigan United Election Protection Coordinator. “Victory today belongs to the hundreds of people from across the state who came forward to demand justice, and to the volunteers who have been observing and protecting the vote these past weeks.”
The rationale for the obstruction was a discrepancy in the number of votes cast with those listed in the poll books by a couple of hundred votes. This was explained to the board during the hearing by representatives from the clerk’s office as normal human error. Such imbalances are not uncommon. They occurred in Kent, Kalamazoo, and Macomb counties in the August primary elections, but the board had no problem certifying ballots then. In fact, Canvassing boards for decades have certified election results even where there were unbalanced precincts.
Today’s attempt to throw out the results of the election in Wayne County is part of a pattern of voter suppression by the Republican party. During the Detroit vote count in the TCF center, Republican poll challengers engaged in a coordinated strategy to challenge, at times, every single ballot. Those who couldn’t get in due to Covid restrictions banged on the doors demanding that officials stop the vote counting, even though there were more Republican monitors inside than counting tables at the time.
Ultimately, the strategy didn't work because of the hard work and dedication of the election inspectors and supervisors who counted Detroit's ballots despite constant attacks and disruption of GOP challengers.