DETROIT (CN) — The Wayne County Board of Canvassers in Michigan unanimously certified its presidential election results Tuesday night after Republicans on the board had initially tried to block the action.
In the board's first vote on whether to certify the results in the Detroit-area county, canvassers voted 2-2 along party lines, rejecting certification.
According to the Associated Press, one of the Republicans on the board, Monica Palmer, said poll books in certain Detroit precints were out of balance, while Democratic board member Jonathan Kinlock said it was "reckless and irresponsible" to not certify the results.
After facing criticism by Democrats, election experts and public spectators during the meeting's public comment period, the canvassers voted again and changed course, unanimously approving certification of President-elect Joe Biden's win.
The certification comes after days of Republican-led litigation over election results in the state.
Republican voters who were rejected by two lower courts asked the Michigan Supreme Court to take up their election fraud case, in a last-ditch effort to stop the certification of the results in the Detroit area.
Residents Cheryl A. Costantino and Edward P. McCall Jr., both Republican poll watchers, sued Detroit and Wayne County officials last week over what they called a lack of transparency in the election process.
After being rejected by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Timothy M. Kenny and the Michigan Court of Appeals, Costantino and McCall filed an appeal with the state’s highest court Tuesday morning seeking an audit of election results.
“The lower court denied plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief without any consideration of the public policy behind the referendum: the people of the state of Michigan want to be able to trust the results of their elections,” the petition states, referring to a 2018 referendum in which voters approved election audits.
Costantino and McCall argue that the appeals court gave no specific reasoning why an audit could not be performed, noting this case is the first to ask courts to interpret the state constitutional amendment enacted by the referendum.
“The audit guaranteed by the Michigan Constitution is not a post-election audit routinely performed in one race in a precinct selected by the government. No, it is an audit asserted by a citizen under Article II, section 4(1)(h) to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the election. The lower court’s position severely curtailed this right and rendered it meaningless,” the filing states.
The petition emphasizes that time is of the essence, with Wayne County canvassers set to certify the county’s election results at 3 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday.
Among other allegations, Costantino and McCall’s Nov. 9 complaint asserted that election workers at downtown Detroit’s TCF Center processed and counted ballots from voters whose names were not listed in the qualified voter file and used random names from the list when a voter’s name could not be confirmed.
“After election officials announced the last absentee ballots had been received, another batch of unsecured and unsealed ballots, without envelopes, arrived in trays at the TCF Center. There were tens of thousands of these absentee ballots, and apparently every ballot was counted and attributed only to Democratic candidates,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit further alleged that election workers removed Republican vote challengers from the premises when they “politely” raised objections.
The Detroit Free Press reported that hundreds of vote challengers converged at the TCF Center as the night after Election Day wore on and the limits for both Republicans and Democrats were reached. The challengers who were excluded continued to gather in front of the building to protest and in the process intimidated workers who eventually covered the windows with cardboard to eliminate the distraction.
But Tuesday’s appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court disputed that reporting and suggested election officials ignored official challenges to votes.
“Plaintiffs/appellants attached numerous affidavits testifying to the fact that challenges were simply denied on site, were not accepted by defendants/appellees, and many of the poll challengers were denied re-entry and/or access to the counting room in order to make a challenge. They were literally locked out of the room by defendants/appellees,” the filing states.
Costantino and McCall demand an independent audit. They claim the trial court wrongly relied upon a statue that says the Michigan secretary of state can request an audit of election precincts and the “election audit must include an audit of at least one race in each precinct selected for an audit.”
“The statute provides an audit for: one race in one precinct, selected not by the citizen but the government official who conducted the election. Clearly, this does not satisfy the right granted to citizens under the Michigan Constitution,” the petition states. “Could you imagine a constitutional right being treated like this in any other context?”
It continues, “For example, what if after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Michigan Legislature passed a law stating that a court may allow same-sex marriage for at least one couple in at least one county, selected by the government. Such a limiting interpretation is not reasonable nor proper, and yet that was the reasoning of the trial court.”
David Fink, an attorney for Detroit, dismissed Costantino and McCall’s lawsuit in an interview last week.
“It’s not grounded in fact, it’s not grounded in logic. It’s based on conspiracy theories, all of which have been debunked,” he told Fox 2 Detroit.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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