Updated Nov 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Michigan county canvassers vote to certify election results after initial deadlock

Detroit election workers counting absentee ballots. Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers struck a last-minute compromise on Tuesday night to certify local election results, backpedaling on a tactic that could have delayed official approval statewide.

Why it matters: The board's Republican members voted earlier Tuesday to block certification, in a move that President Trump celebrated on Twitter. The reversal is a blow to Trump and his GOP allies who have sought to delay or block President-elect Joe Biden's victories in a number of jurisdictions, mostly through failed legal action.

  • Biden won the county, which includes Detroit, with more than 70% of the vote according to unofficial results.

Background: The board was deadlocked 2-2 in the earlier vote Tuesday, after Republican members noted that absentee ballot poll books at 70% of Detroit's 134 absentee counting boards had discrepancies with the number of actual votes counted, according to the Detroit News.

  • Yes, but: The same body certified the vote in the state's primary election in August, despite a comparable number of inconsistencies, per the Detroit News.

The state of play: After it certified the result in a second vote Tuesday, the board called on Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to conduct an audit of the discrepancies.

Of note: Benson wrote in a statement before the board reconvened noting that it's common for some precincts to be out of balance by a small number of votes, and that the development "is not an indication that any votes were improperly cast or tabulated."

What they're saying: Michael Gwin, a spokesperson for Biden, said in a statement that the Democrat "convincingly won Michigan by 14 times the margin of Donald Trump in 2016 and state election officials have made clear that there's zero evidence of fraud," despite Trump's baseless claims.

  • "The votes of all of the more than 5.5 million Michiganders who participated in the 2020 election will continue to be quickly certified and reaffirm the fact that Joe Biden decisively won Michigan," Gwin said.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with Gwin's comments.

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