Republican appointees on a key board in Michigan’s most populous county Tuesday night reversed their initial refusal to certify the vote tallies in the Detroit area, striking a last-minute compromise with Democrats that defused a political fight over the process to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

The last-minute twist came after the four-member Wayne County Board of Canvassers had deadlocked on the day of the deadline for Michigan counties to certify the vote – a move that President Trump celebrated on Twitter as “a beautiful thing.”

The Trump campaign has alleged irregularities in the vote count in the county seat of Detroit, accusations city officials have vigorously denied. Democrats accused Republican officials of seeking to disenfranchise voters in the largely Black city of Detroit.

State Democrats say Trump has no hope of overturning Biden’s 148,000-vote lead. Trump supporters have urged Michigan’s majority-Republican state legislature to try to appoint its own electors if the state canvassing board, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, fails to certify the vote before the electoral college meets in December.

Supporters of President Trump protest the vote count outside of TFC Center where absentee ballots were counted in Detroit following Election Day. Salwan Georges/The Washington Post

“If the state board follows suit, the Republican state legislator will select the electors. Huge win for @realDonaldTrump,” Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis tweeted Tuesday night.

But experts said such a move would have been on shaky legal ground, and key Republican lawmakers have acknowledged Biden’s win and said they do not plan to attempt to intervene.

After the initial deadlock was met with an outpouring of condemnation, the board recessed Tuesday night and returned with a new agreement to certify the results, along with a request that the secretary of state’s office conduct a comprehensive audit of the vote tallies.

Republican board Chair Monica Palmer, who initially said that she did not “have faith that the poll books are complete and accurate,” said that the compromise addressed her concerns.

“I appreciate putting our heads together to come to a solution,” Palmer said.

The initial refusal of the Wayne County GOP officials to certify the vote drew outrage from Democrats, who said the Republicans were playing politics with the vote, and emotional objections from local election officials, who noted their staff have worked 16 hours a day for the past two weeks to certify the results.

“We have been here tirelessly,” said Jennifer Redmond, the deputy director of elections for Wayne County, calling the move a “slap in the face.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, called the two Republican votes against certification a “blatant attempt to undermine the will of the voters.”

“The process, however, will move forward,” she said in a statement. “Under Michigan law, the Board of State of Canvassers will now finish the job and I have every expectation they will certify the results when the job is done.”

The reversal in Michigan came as the Trump campaign has faced a string of failures in its beleaguered effort to overturn the result of the election through the courts. In the latest defeat on Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected the campaign’s claim that GOP observers did not have sufficient access to the vote count, underscoring how the president’s claims of voting irregularities have repeatedly run aground before judges.

Meanwhile, in Nevada, the campaign filed a challenge to the state’s election results, asking a state court in Carson City to declare Trump the winner of Nevada’s six presidential electors or to annul the election entirely, meaning no winner would be certified from Nevada. Multiple lawsuits seeking to block or delay vote-counting in Democratic-leaning Clark County have been rejected in recent weeks by judges who said the campaign had presented little or no evidence to back up claims of wrongdoing and fraud.

The latest moves came as the campaign has failed to gain traction in its attempt to deliver Trump a second term with unfounded claims that the race was tainted by widespread voter fraud.


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