‘Wrong!’: Trump erupts after another loss
A Democratic state politician told a female Republican election official to "think about your kids" and named their likely school, amid a tense stand-off on Tuesday night that briefly saw vote totals in Michigan held up from certification over unexplained irregularities.
Election officials in Michigan's largest county, which takes in Detroit, eventually voted four-zero to certify the results from the presidential election, confirming a victory for Joe Biden over Donald Trump.
It came around three hours after an unprecedented two-two deadlock along party lines drew praise from the President and the head of the Michigan Republican Party, but outrage from Democrats, including Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney-General Dana Nesssel.
Michigan, which has 16 electoral college votes, will be a crucial state for Mr Trump to overturn if he hopes to claw back victory from Mr Biden.
Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, the two Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, were accused of racism for zeroing in on discrepancies in Detroit, citing concerns about mismatching poll books.
A stream of Wayne County residents took turns to berate and threaten the two officials during a fiery public Zoom meeting, including state representative-elect Abraham Aiyash, who accused Ms Palmer of displaying her "caucasity" by refusing to certify the election.
"Your words today and your actions today made it clear that you are OK with silencing the votes of an 80 per cent African-American city," Mr Aiyash said.
"What that tells us is you, Ms Monica Palmer from (her suburb), which has a history of racism, are deciding to enable and continue to perpetuate the racist history of this country. I want you to think about what that means for your kids, who probably go to (the school's name)."
MICHIGAN.🚨— Kyle Becker (@kylenabecker) November 18, 2020
WATCH as Democrat State Rep-Elect Abraham Aiyash threatens the children of Wayne County Board of Canvassers member Monica Palmer.
"I want you to think about what this means for your kids, who probably go to [redacted]"...
In a tweet on Wednesday, Mr Aiyash said people had spread a "fake story that I threatened and 'doxxed' Monica Palmer".
"Y'all, I didn't even know what doxxing was. Now the attacks won't stop!" he wrote. "I won't be bullied into silence though."
Another resident, local tech chief executive Ned Staebler, went viral for his rant at the two Republicans. "The Trump stain, the stain of racism that you, William Hartmann and Monica Palmer, have covered yourself in, is going to follow you throughout history," he said.
"Just know when you try to sleep tonight, that millions of people around the world now on Twitter know the name Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, as two people completely racist and without an understanding of what integrity means or a shred of human decency."
He warned the pair that "the law isn't on your side, history won't be on your side, your conscience won't be on your side, and Lord knows, when you go to meet your maker, your soul is going to be very, very warm".
Hey guys,— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) November 18, 2020
Please Watch @NedStaebler — a Wayne County Board Member of Canvassers stuff in a locker @HartmannDude and @monicaspalmer — the two members that refused to certify the ballots for the county...pic.twitter.com/iGl3LSf3Sw
Internet users highlighted a number of disturbing tweets "liked" by Mr Staebler, including one that read "last time we defeated fascism we drew up a list of the people responsible and then we killed them", and another that likened a red "Make America Great Again" hat to "Nazi memorabilia".
Around 70 per cent of Wayne County precincts were found to be "out of balance", meaning the number of ballots cast did not match the number of people who signed in. Under Michigan law, out-of-balance precincts are disqualified from participating in any recount, and the original election results stand as final.
Ms Palmer and Mr Hartmann generated outrage for suggesting they would certify all of Wayne County except Detroit.
After the initial deadlock vote, Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis touted it as a "huge win" while Mr Trump tweeted that "having courage is a beautiful thing". "Flip Michigan back to TRUMP. Detroit, not surprisingly, has tremendous problems!" he said, adding that there were "more votes than people".
Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox issued a statement minutes after the vote praising the move.
"I am proud that, due to the efforts of the Michigan Republican Party, the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign, enough evidence of irregularities and potential voter fraud was uncovered resulting in the Wayne County Board of Canvassers refusing to certify their election results," she said.
But Michigan Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes called it an "an outrageous display of partisan posturing".
"Monica Palmer and William Hartmann have chosen to tarnish their personal legacy by picking up the GOP banner of making allegations without any evidence," she said in a statement. "For the Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers to buy into conspiracy theories and completely disregard the will of the voters in Michigan is not only shameful but a complete dereliction of duties."
The two Democrats on the board accused their colleagues of playing politics, with Jonathan Kinloch describing it as "reckless and irresponsible action by this board" and Allen Wilson saying he was "actually appalled to be sitting here today", the Detroit Free Press reported.
The Republicans backed down after an intense public pressure campaign, voting to certify the result under the agreement that the board would ask Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to conduct an audit of the out-of-balance precincts to prevent discrepancies in the future.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan celebrated the decision, noting "every court on the Detroit election results has ruled that Trump's claims of error were baseless". "Had the Board of Canvassers disenfranchised 1.4 million Wayne County voters over partisan politics, it would have been an historically shameful act," he said. "Glad to see common sense prevailed in the end."
Ms Nessel wrote on Twitter, "Don't mess with Wayne County."
Mr Trump fired off a flurry of furious tweets after the decision, saying the two Republican "patriots" had been harassed and claiming "I win Michigan".
"At first they voted against because there were far more VOTES than PEOPLE (Sad!)," he said. "Then they were threatened, screamed at and viciously harassed, and were FORCED to change their vote, but then REFUSED, as American patriots, to sign the documents. 71% MESS. Don't Harass!"
Wrong! At first they voted against because there were far more VOTES than PEOPLE (Sad!). Then they were threatened, screamed at and viciously harassed, and were FORCED to change their vote, but then REFUSED, as American patriots, to sign the documents. 71% MESS. Don’t Harass! https://t.co/n5frpesHfD— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2020
“The numbers have not improved, it is still 71% out of balance”, stated Wayne County, Michigan, Canvassers. “There is widespread irregularities in poll numbers.” There are “more votes than people”. The two harassed patriot Canvassers refuse to sign the papers!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2020
In Detroit, there are FAR MORE VOTES THAN PEOPLE. Nothing can be done to cure that giant scam. I win Michigan!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2020
The Great State of Michigan, with votes being far greater than the number of people who voted, cannot certify the election. The Democrats cheated big time, and got caught. A Republican WIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2020
Several lawsuits attempting to stop or delay the certification of the state's election results have been thrown out by judges.
Most of the cases hinge on allegations of misconduct by election workers during the three days of absentee ballot processing at Detroit's TCF Centre, where Republican poll watchers claim they were harassed, blocked from observing the counting and prevented from re-entering the room.
All of those allegations have so far been rejected by Michigan courts, with one judge saying the affidavits produced by Republicans showed an unfamiliarity with the vote counting process and that "sinister, fraudulent motives were ascribed to the process and to the City of Detroit".
The scene at Detroit’s absentee ballot counting center is growing more heated. The windows now being covered up. Allegations of violations. Sec. of State says she welcomes challenges. pic.twitter.com/oUL4A0h3Ku— Matt Finn (@MattFinnFNC) November 4, 2020
My wife just sent this video of Detroit election workers cheering every time a @migop attorney is removed from the TCF Center, where absentee ballot counting is happening. She says they do this every time they eject a GOP poll watcher & that Dem watchers outnumber GOP 3:1. pic.twitter.com/Sx1aHCoChY— Aric Nesbitt (@aricnesbitt) November 4, 2020
Mr Biden received 587,074 votes in Wayne County, or 67.99 per cent, while Mr Trump received 264,149 votes, or 30.59 per cent. The Democratic former Vice President won Michigan by a 154,485 votes - a 2.8 per cent margin - with 2,804,563 to the President's 2,650,078.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers found that 94 of Detroit's 134 absent voter counting boards - roughly 70 per cent - and 85 of its 503 election-day precincts recorded discrepancies.
The total numbers were relatively small, however, with the majority of precincts that were out of balance recording discrepancies of three votes or less. The total discrepancies amounted to roughly 387 votes, compared with roughly 250,000 Detroit residents who cast ballots in the November election.
A meeting scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in Lansing, Michigan, that would have given the public the chance to ask questions about the election count, was cancelled as "all counties have certified their election results".
The state's certification board will meet on Monday to finalise the results.
Mr Biden was declared the presumptive winner of the election after edging ahead of Mr Trump in several key battleground states in the days following the election, as absentee ballots continued to be counted.
The Trump campaign has made as-yet-unproven allegations of widespread voter fraud, and is attempting to overturn the results through a combination of legal challenges - most of which have fallen flat - and requests for audits and recounts.
The electoral college meets in each state on December 14 to formally vote on the winner.
Originally published as 'Wrong!': Trump erupts after another loss