Wayne County Board of Canvassers Chairwoman Monica Palmer speaks outside of her attorney Michael Schwartz’s Farmington Hills office Friday, Nov. 20, 2020.
Detroit Free Press
Election experts and civil rights advocates called on the Michigan Board of Canvassers to certify election results during an online press conference Friday, saying the canvassers’ role is largely a technical one.
“Their duties are ministerial and they must act,” John Pirich, an election law attorney who teaches at the Michigan State University College of Law, said during the press conference hosted by the Michigan ACLU. “It’s so clear under the law what they have to do.”
The ACLU press conference was attended by members of the Detroit NAACP, League of Women Voters, and several attorneys who specialize in election law. They said that the four-member Michigan board has to certify the election results.
“All that is left is the verification of the vote,” said Christina Schlitt, president of the League of Women Voters of Michigan. “It is the sworn duty of boards of canvassers to confirm the will of the people without regard to their personal opinions about what the voters chose.”
The press conference came as President Donald Trump and other Republicans continue to allege fraud and voting irregularities in Michigan and some other states. Some are pushing for the state board to block certification.
More: Black leaders advocates outraged over initial Wayne County Canvassers vote
On Tuesday, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 on certifying the election results in Michigan’s largest county after the two Republicans on the four-member board, William Hartmann and Monica Palmer, raised questions about out-of-balance precinct results in Detroit. They later reversed their vote and the board voted 4-0 to approve certification and asked the state to conduct an audit. Later in the week, Hartmann and Palmer announced in affidavits that they wanted to rescind their votes, but experts say there is no provision in law for them to do so..
More: Detroit Mayor blasts Trump attacks, says voting count was 99.9% accurate
Palmer on Friday defender her actions, saying that there were problems with tabulation in Detroit. She said she has forwarded her concerns to the state board of canvassers.
“I have provided them a copy of my affidavit,” she said in an online news conference.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan earlier this week defended the voting process, saying the count was 99.9% accurate, with only 357 out-of-balance counts out of 250,000 votes cast.
“Recent attempts by members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers to obstruct the certification process are nothing more than a partisan stunt designed, to sow distrust in our election system and delay the inevitable certification of final votes,” said Schlitt of the League of Women Voters of Michigan. “Black and Brown voters in Michigan already faced too many barriers at the ballot box. And these antics threatened to disenfranchise these voters. Yet again, that cannot happen. Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers meeting will put a stop to these baseless attacks against democracy.”
Related: Who’s on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers? Meet the members
On Friday, Trump was to meet with Republican House and Senate leaders from Michigan.
But Pirich said any attempts by state legislators to intervene in election results is “simply not allowed by Michigan law.”
He said the state board has “no discretion at all” to block the certification and ask for an investigation into any claims of tabulation irregularities, he said. “Simply look at the numbers. … Add up the numbers.”
If the state board fails to certify the results, “the court will order them,” said Mark Brewer, an attorney and former chair of the Michigan Democratic Party.
Steve Liedel, an election attorney in Michigan, said that if necessary, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could intervene to certify results.
Liedel said that any attempts by the state Legislature to intervene now by changing laws would be like “changing the rules of a football game … at the end of the fourth quarter.”
Follow Niraj Warikoo on Twitter @nwarikoo
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