Votes originating from Wayne County, Michigan were briefly held hostage on Tuesday while two Republican officials refused to certify the results, seemingly aiding President Trump’s attempt to steal the election from President-elect Joe Biden.

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William Hartmann and Monica Palmer made up the GOP half of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, and the only ones who had an issue with certifying.

Their claim was that there were too many discrepancies in Detroit, specifically, because the number of votes counted was not equal to the number of voters who signed in to vote, sometimes being off by 3 or 4 votes per precinct. Nonpartisan experts have confirmed this is not uncommon, and is likely the result of human error, and Michigan election officials insist everything was done by the books.

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It’s also worth noting that another city within Wayne County, Livonia, had a much larger discrepancy of 27 ballots that were not accounted for in the books. But Palmer made a point to say she would be fine with all cities within the county except for Detroit being certified — even Livonia, whose population is 95% white and voted almost equally for Biden and Trump.

People were quick to accuse Hartmann and Palmer of both racism and enacting a specific political agenda for the stunt, considering that losing votes from Detroit would cost Biden a large number of votes, from predominantly Black voters.

Condemnations of the deadlock came flying in over social media, and Michigan residents spoke in protest of the refusal to certify over Zoom.

One man in particular, Ned Staebler, has been praised for really letting loose on Hartmann and Palmer for their attempt to subvert democracy.

Not only did he rip apart their “concerns” with logic by pointing out previous times they had certified votes with even more discrepancies and fewer ballots available for recount, Staebler also made it perfectly clear what he thought of this little stunt.

“I’m not going to try to change your mind, I just want to let you know that the Trump stink, the stain of racism that you, William Hartmann and Monica Palmer, have covered yourself in, is going to follow you throughout history,” he said. “Monica Palmer and William Hartmann 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.”

“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, when you go to meet your maker, your soul is going to be very, very warm,” he added.

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Staebler wasn’t the only one to share frustrations and disgust over the Republicans’ actions, as citizens, election workers, and even a reverend came forth to condemn their refusal to certify votes. 

The only voice out there loudly praising their actions was that of President Trump, who tweeted about the decision repeatedly on Tuesday night, including insisting that “Detroit, not surprisingly, has tremendous problems!”

However, Hartmann and Palmer eventually caved, possibly in part due to the extreme outcry, but also because Michigan’s Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson, agreed to audit the Detroit precincts that had these discrepancies the GOP officials claimed to be so concerned about. But Benson herself doesn’t seem to think any nefarious intent will be discovered by doing so.

“It appears that the truth won in this scenario,” she told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “Basically, the evidence was clear: There were no irregularities, there was no evidence of widespread fraud and in fact there were simply minor clerical errors… I think they did the right thing, they performed their duty and they certified the election for the voters in Wayne County.”

The results may have been certified, but as Staebler said, the actions of Hartmann and Palmer to try to disenfranchise voters to the benefit of Trump are not likely to be forgotten by people in Michigan any time soon.

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*First Published: November 18, 2020, 8:44 am