Detroit’s Wayne County Election certification deadlocked

UPDATE: The 2 Republican Board Members reversed their decision and have joined with the two Democrat Members to certify the election. This comes after outcry that the decision was racist and the dissenting members’ personal information was shared on Twitter. The agreement included a demand that the Secretary of State’s office conduct a “comprehensive audit” of “unexplained precincts.”

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers in Michigan deadlocked 2-2 Tuesday along party lines on certifying the county’s Nov. 3 election results.  Wayne County includes Detroit. At least four state and federal lawsuits have been brought to stop the process.

The decision came after absentee ballot poll books at 70% of Detroit’s 134 absentee counting boards were found to be out of balance without explanation.

In August, canvassers found 72% of Detroit’s absentee voting precincts didn’t match the number of ballots cast. The imbalances between August and November are not an exact comparison since August’s canvassing was based on results from 503 precincts and November’s canvassing was based on 134 counting boards.

The same board did certify the earlier imbalances in August and in similar 2016 circumstances.

Board Vice Chairman Jonathan Kinloch, a Democrat, called the decision by the two Republican members “reckless and irresponsible.” Chairwoman Monica Palmer, a Republican, defended the decision. “Based on what I saw and went through in poll books in this canvass, I believe that we do not have complete and accurate information in those poll books,” she said. 

The deadlock has the potential to delay the certification of statewide election results and extend the time for a potential recount. A county board that fails to canvass within 14 days after the election must give all of its documentation to the Secretary of State’s office and Board of State Canvassers, which then has 10 days to complete the work, canvass and certify the results, according to the board’s canvassing manual.