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Two Michigan Republicans demand to RESCIND their votes certifying Wayne County election results

The two Republican members of the board of canvassers in Michigan’s most populous county now want to ‘rescind’ their votes certifying the results of the November 3 election. 

Monica Palmer and William Hartmann of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, who initially refused to certify the presidential election results, performed a dramatic back-flip after they were roundly blasted during a three-hour public meeting.

Palmer and Hartmann angered many when they declared they would not sign off on their district’s ballot count which had Joe Biden ahead by 148,000 votes. 

The move was seen as an attempt to disenfranchise black voters, since African Americans make up some 80 percent of the population in Wayne County’s largest city, Detroit.

Amidst the intense backlash, Palmer and Hartmann did an about-face and voted to certify on Tuesday. 

Late Wednesday, Palmer and Hartmann sought to reverse themselves yet again, filing affidavits indicating they wished to rescind their votes in favor of certification.

Monica Palmer (pictured) and William Hartmann - who serve as the two Republican members on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers - have spectacularly back-flipped and decided to certify the election results in their district, after initially voting not to

William Hartmann is pictured

Monica Palmer and William Hartmann – who serve as the two Republican members on the  Wayne County Board of Canvassers – filed affidavits late on Wednesday to ‘rescind’ their decisions to certify the vote from the November 3 election. They spectacularly back-flipped and decided to certify the election results in their district on Tuesday after initially voting not to 

The two Republicans agreed to certify as part of a compromise in which the secretary of state, Democrat Jocelyn Benson, agreed to conduct an audit of the county's votes to clear up minor clerical errors. But by Wednesday the two said it was clear that no such audit is being planned

The two Republicans agreed to certify as part of a compromise in which the secretary of state, Democrat Jocelyn Benson, agreed to conduct an audit of the county’s votes to clear up minor clerical errors. But by Wednesday the two said it was clear that no such audit is being planned

The two Republicans agreed to certify as part of a compromise in which the secretary of state, Democrat Jocelyn Benson, agreed to conduct an audit of the county’s votes to clear up minor clerical errors.

But by Wednesday the two said it was clear that no such audit is being planned.

‘As a result of theses fact, I rescind my prior vote to certify Wayne County elections,’ the signed affidavit, which was reported by USA TODAY, read. 

‘I fully believe the Wayne County vote should not be certified.’

According to journalist Kayla Ruble, all of the state's counties have certified their results and certification papers were signed late Tuesday, right up against the deadline

According to journalist Kayla Ruble, all of the state’s counties have certified their results and certification papers were signed late Tuesday, right up against the deadline

Jonathan Kinloch, the vice chairman of the Wayne County Baord of Canvassers, told Ruble that 'the deal is already done.'

Jonathan Kinloch, the vice chairman of the Wayne County Baord of Canvassers, told Ruble that ‘the deal is already done.’

The affidavit continued: ‘The Wayne County election had serious flaws which deserve investigation. 

‘I continue to ask for information to assist Wayne County voters that these elections were conducted fairly and accurately. 

‘Despite repeated requests, I have not received the requisite information and believed an additional 10 days of canvas by the State Board of Canvassers will help provide the information necessary.’

The attempt to rescind the certification is unlikely to have any effect on the state’s official approval of the final vote count.

According to journalist Kayla Ruble, all of the state’s counties have certified their results and certification papers were signed late Tuesday, right up against the deadline.

Jonathan Kinloch, the vice chairman of the Wayne County Baord of Canvassers, told Ruble that ‘the deal is already done.’ 

The initial decision by the two Republicans not to certify sparked outrage on Tuesday, with the two board members being subsequently lambasted in a Zoom meeting by Ned Staebler, a prominent Michigan businessman who worked as a poll watcher in the large county, which encompasses the city of Detroit. 

‘I just want to let you know that the Trump stink, the stain of racism that you have covered yourself in, is going to follow you throughout history,’ Staebler raged, noting that the pair specifically refused to certify results in Detroit, which has a population that is around 80 percent black.

He pointed out that the pair appeared to have no qualms in certifying results from Livonia, a nearby city which was 95 percent white, despite the fact there were larger discrepancies between votes cast and counted in that area.  

In response to their initial decision not to certify the vote, the pair were lambasted in a Zoom meeting by Ned Staebler, a prominent Michigan businessman who worked as a poll watcher in Wayne County (pictured)

In response to their initial decision not to certify the vote, the pair were lambasted in a Zoom meeting by Ned Staebler, a prominent Michigan businessman who worked as a poll watcher in Wayne County (pictured)

Staebler further referenced that Hartmann and Palmer had previously certified a primary election earlier this year which had larger discrepancies than those found in the November 3 presidential election.  

‘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,’ Staebler raged. 

‘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.’

‘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.’

Shortly after Staebler’s stinging rebuke, both the Republicans back-flipped, agreeing to sign off on the ballot count in Wayne County and delivering a crushing blow to President Trump in his quest to contest the outcome of the election. 

Hartmann and Palmer looked a little stunned after being blasted on the Zoom call by Staebler

Hartmann and Palmer looked a little stunned after being blasted on the Zoom call by Staebler 

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump and other Republicans were overjoyed at news Hartmann and Palmer had initially refused to sign off on the election results. 

Many believed the act would embolden other conservative officials in key states to take similar action, potentially delaying or preventing Biden from becoming President. 

‘Wow! Michigan just refused to certify the election results! Having courage is a beautiful thing. The USA stands proud!’ Trump gleefully tweeted shortly after 9 pm Eastern. 

But just minutes after that tweet, Hartmann and Palmer spectacularly flip-flopped and agreed to certify the election results.   

Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday night that Michigan's Wayne County had 'refused to certify the presidential election results' - just minutes before they actually did so

Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday night that Michigan’s Wayne County had ‘refused to certify the presidential election results’ – just minutes before they actually did so 

Trump gleefully tweeted about what looked to be a massive win for him in Wayne County - before two Republicans changed their votes

Trump gleefully tweeted about what looked to be a massive win for him in Wayne County – before two Republicans changed their votes

Election workers process absentee ballots at the Detroit Department of Elections Central Counting Board of Voting the day after the election

Election workers process absentee ballots at the Detroit Department of Elections Central Counting Board of Voting the day after the election 

According to The Detroit Free Press, their certification is contingent on having ‘the Michigan Democratic Secretary of State conduct an independent comprehensive audit of all of the jurisdictions in the county that recorded unexplained discrepancies between the number of absentee ballots recorded as cast and the number of absentee ballots counted.’

The Democrat members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers have agreed to that action. 

Staebler was not the only person on the Zoom call to condemn Hartmann and Palmer.  

Others say their decision not to sign off on the ballot count it as ‘a dangerous attempt to overthrow the will of voters’. 

The Rev. Wendell Anthony, a well-known pastor and head of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, called the Republican county canvassers 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 percent of the people who reside here are African Americans. Shame on you!’ Anthony said at a meeting, which was conducted virtually over Zoom.

Palmer said she was reluctant to certify the vote count as poll books in certain Detroit precincts were out of balance.

In response, Jonathan Kinloch, a Democrat, said it was ‘reckless and irresponsible’ to not certify the results.

‘It’s not based upon fraud. It´s absolutely human error,’ Kinloch said of any discrepancies. ‘Votes that are cast are tabulated.’

Jonathan Kinloch - a Democrat on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers - is pictured

Jonathan Kinloch – a Democrat on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers – is pictured

Allen Wilson, who serves as the second Democrat on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, is pictured with Senator Chuck Schumer

Allen Wilson, who serves as the second Democrat on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, is pictured with Senator Chuck Schumer 

In this Nov. 4, 2020 file photo, a Republican election challenger at right watches over election inspectors as they examine a ballot as votes are counted into the early morning hours at the central counting board in Detroit

In this Nov. 4, 2020 file photo, a Republican election challenger at right watches over election inspectors as they examine a ballot as votes are counted into the early morning hours at the central counting board in Detroit

However, Kinloch was heartened after the Republicans reversed course and agreed to certify the election results. 

‘It restored my faith in the fact that yes, government does work, that yes, the people can make a difference,’ he told The Detroit News. 

The city’s mayor, Mike Duggan, was also happy with the outcome. 

‘Glad to see common sense prevailed in the end,’ he told the publication, adding that the two Republican board members would have committed ‘an historically shameful act’ if not for their U-turn. 

TRUMP’S POSSIBLE ROADMAP TO KEEPING THE WHITE HOUSE

Donald Trump does have a precarious – and politically explosive – path to keeping the White House. To do it he needs to get Joe Biden’s wins in a series of states set aside. 

With his claim that the Supreme Court would do that looking to have evaporated, instead he has to use the procedures of the Electoral College to turn it round. 

And he needs to do it in a lot of states: if Georgia and Arizona stay on track for Joe Biden, he will have 306 votes, far above the 270 needed. Trump appears to be taking legal action, or intending to, in six states: Pennsylvania, with 20 Electoral College votes; Georgia, with 16; Michigan with 16; Arizona with 11; Wisconsin with 10; and Nevada with six.

He needs to get at least any two of the larger three states plus one more state to go Republican to get Biden under 270. 

Here is how he might manage it: 

STEP ONE: GET COURTS TO PUT HOLDS ON CERTIFYING THE VOTE IN TARGET STATES 

The vote is not official until it is ‘certified’ – that is officially declared valid – which happens later in November. Georgia certifies on November 20, and Nevada and Wisconsin are last on December 1. 

Trump is already trying to get certification put on hold in Pennsylvania and Michigan, claiming large-scale irregularities.  

OR: GET AN ‘AUDIT’ REQUESTED OR EVEN BETTER ORDERED – AND KEEP IT GOING PAST CERTIFICATION

Michigan Republican state senators have asked for an ‘audit’ claiming that allegations of irregularity need to be looked into.  This could be a useful tool if courts don’t come through: at the very least it would allow Republicans to say they don’t trust the certification because it has not been audited.

STEP TWO: KEEP THE CERTIFICATION ON HOLD PAST DECEMBER 8

This is the ‘safe harbor’ deadline when all election disputes must be resolved. If they are not fully played out, whoever has a court ruling in their favor at this point keeps that result. So if Trump has certification on hold in target states, he has a chance to flip them to him starting now. 

STEP THREE: GET REPUBLICAN LEGISLATURES TO AGREE TO APPOINT THEIR OWN ELECTORS

You were not voting for the president directly: you were voting for electors to the electoral college. But the Constitution does not say that electors are winners of a popular vote. Instead the Constitution says: ‘Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors.’ In the early 19th century, states rapidly moved to make the appointment of the electors the result of the popular vote; by 1832 South Carolina was the only holdout. It stuck with that approach until secession.

So Republicans in at least three and possibly more states would have to decide that because the results are not certified – or because they claim they don’t trust the certification because of an audit or the lack of one – that they can take back control for themselves. They would argue that because the results aren’t certified or trustworthy, it’s up to them to work out the will of the people.

Then – undoubtedly in the face of huge public protest – they would appoint Republicans who will vote for Trump.  

This has happened in recent history: in 1960 Hawaii had disputed elections and sent two slates of electors. 

STEP FOUR: SWEAT IT OUT WHEN GOVERNORS APPOINT THEIR OWN ELECTORS

All three of the biggest target states – Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan – have Republican legislatures and Democratic governors. So now the governors could simply appoint their own electors – voting for Biden – and say that their votes are what counts on January 6, when the Electoral College is counted and record in Washington D.C.

STEP FOUR: SURVIVE A SUPREME COURT CHALLENGE TO THE REPUBLICAN ELECTORS 

Such a dramatic change would go to the Supreme Court. It has never directly ruled whether states could do that: in 2000, three of the five justices who gave the election to Bush over Gore said that state legislatures had complete control – but that is not a precedent. Now Trump’s fate would be in the hands of nine justices, three of whom he appointed and one of whom – Clarence Thomas – said that legislatures are in charge.  

Democrats would of course argue that the governors’ electors are the right ones, and a titanic battle would play out. If Trump wins – again in the face of likely huge public protest – he is on to the final stage. 

STEP FIVE: HOPE THAT THE PENNSYLVANIA REPUBLICAN SLATES DON’T GO FAITHLESS

If Pennsylvania is one of the states to ignore the popular vote, Trump needs its 20 Republican electors to stick to the plan – but the state allows faithless electors. So all, or even some, could make a difference in an already mathematically fraught bid to keep the presidency. But assuming he has enough votes not going to Biden, it is on to Washington D.C.

STEP FIVE:  MAKE IT TO JANUARY 6 

This is D-day for the plan: The newly-sworn in Congress meets to count the Electoral College votes. The vice-president, Mike Pence, presides, over a joint session. Normally the ‘certificates’ showing how each state voted are opened in front of the vice-president, the count is recorded and with a bang of the gavel, the electoral college winner is officially declared.

Now Trump needs Republicans in the House and Senate to work together. A member of the House and a senator can jointly object to a state’s certificate when it is opened. The last time this happened was in 1877, which caused a months-long crisis, ended by compromise and followed by the Electoral Count Act of 1887. 

This time the 1887 rules come into play. If there is an objection, they split into the House and Senate and there are two hours for debate. This has only happened once, in 2005, when a tiny number of Democrats objected to Ohio’s vote count. But it was voted down overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate. 

And finally, the vote count is in alphabetical order, so Arizona will be the first battleground state where all this could be tested. 

STEP SIX: MAKE SURE THE RULES ARE IN YOUR FAVOR

As the Trump ships enters uncharted waters, one issue is unresolved: how do you work out what a majority of the Electoral College is? That seems simple but it might not be. If the House and the Senate come to different conclusions on a state with rival slates of electors, then the question is what happens next. 

The most likely answer is that they are simply removed from Biden’s total but not added to Trump. But does that mean the states still count in the Electoral College? The 1887 law is not clear: it seems to suggest both options are available, so Congress might have to try to decide – or Pence as president of the joint session could rule.

If Congress goes for the shrinking college, that favors Biden unless Trump has Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – all the states being targeted by Trump. But if it stays at 538, then Biden could well lose without Trump actually winning: once it falls below 270, there is no majority and therefore it is up to the House to decide.

STEP SEVEN: KEEP MITT ROMNEY, SUSAN COLLINS AND LISA MURKOWSKI ON TRUMP’S SIDE (AND HOPE PENCE CAN VOTE)

If Trump is to win, he has to have the Republicans in the Senate vote for Arizona’s Republican slates as the first order of business. 

This is where the Georgia Senate race comes into play. 

If the Georgia runoffs are decided and Democrats take both seats, Pence would have to tie break in Trump’s favor – if that is allowed. The rules say he is president of the joint session. But they are unclear on whether he retains his tie-break power as president of the Senate. The two roles are not identical and the 1887 law appears to give him a passive, rather than active, role in the session – more like the chief justice presiding over Trump’s impeachment trial than a regular Senate session.

But if Republicans get one or both Georgia seats, the Senate will be 51-49 or 52-48, which means that any rebellion by Republicans is extremely dangerous. Assuming that Pence has a tie-break, it would take only two or three rebels to end Trump’s run. There are three obvious candidates: Mitt Romney voted to impeach him, Susan Collins owes him nothing after he refused to campaign for her, and he has called for Lisa Murkowski to be primaried. 

STEP EIGHT: WATCH A DEBATE WHICH HAS NO PRECEDENT

The 1887 law sets some ground rules for how the House and the Senate debate which slate of electors are valid. They have to decide what the true vote was at the safe harbor deadline – back on December 8 – and which slate of electors were appointed in line with state law. So the debate should – in theory – not be partisan but a determination of which side is valid. In principle, that could mean different outcomes for different states. But assuming that  a Arizona goes Trump’s way in the Senate and Biden’s way in the House, that state is tied – and then it’s on to a new constitutional crisis. 

STEP NINE: NOW IT’S GETTING REALLY MESSY – COULD THERE BE TWO PRESIDENTS

The law says that Congress can’t move on to the next state until debate is resolved over the one in question. But it also says that the meeting cannot be dissolved until all states are decided.

So the whole proceeding could be deadlocked at Arizona. And as long as it remains deadlocked, there is a looming deadline of January 20 – at which point Pence and Trump are out of office anyway. In that scenario, Nancy Pelosi becomes president automatically at noon. 

However, Pence could break the deadlock on Arizona by ruling that the votes are not to be counted at all, and debate can resume on the next item.

Democrats clearly would not agree. In that scenario, it is impossible to say what would happen. They could walk out, say the debate is not resolved – which it would not be – and therefore Pelosi would be sworn in on January 20.

But Pence can then rule that the debate in fact is going on even without Democrats, run through the votes with only Republicans and come up with a Trump victory: meaning two rival presidents both claiming they are in charge. Both can be sworn in at noon on January 20, with only one with their personal items in the White House.

What happens then is impossible to say: the Supreme Court could try to rule between them, or the military might have to decide who is commander-in- chief. 

THE OTHER STEP NINE: KEEP DEBATING (ALTHOUGH WHY WOULD DEMOCRATS WANT TO? 

Of course Democrats could stick with the debate and keep going, debating each state as they go along. 

If Trump overturns six states’ votes, it is inevitable that Democrats lose, regardless of the rules. If he has fewer states, he will want the 538 figure kept in play to get Biden into a minority. This highly unlikely step gets to neither having a majority in the Electoral College.

STEP NINE: THE HOUSE DECIDES – TRUMP HAS DONE IT

If Trump and Biden end up here this is safer ground: the House has decided before. It does not vote under normal rules. Instead each state delegation gets one vote and has to decide among the delegation how to allot it. 

So going by current House results, 27 states have Republican majorities, and all Trump has to do it get a simple majority of them. Trump has triumphed – but it is an exhaustingly long process to get back on the platform on January 20 to be sworn in. 

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