For a couple of hours on Tuesday, it looked like two Republican officials in Wayne County, Michigan, could reject the will of hundreds of thousands of voters.
The Wayne County Campaign Committee – a largely Democratic area that includes Detroit – met to confirm the results of the November 3 election and was bogged down in party politics. The two Democrats on the electoral committee voted for confirmation and the two Republicans voted against.
Republican members, William Hartmann and Monica Palmer, said they were concerned about small discrepancies between the number of votes cast in some districts and the number of district officials reported as elected.
But these types of inconsistencies are not uncommon. They can occur if, for example, a voter checks in but then gets frustrated by a long queue and leaves.
They were nowhere near significant enough in Wayne County or anywhere else in Michigan to change the victory of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said they cast just 357 votes out of about 250,000 votes in the city.
The election certification should be routine: recruiters at the county or township level (depending on the state) review the district's results, ensure that every ballot is considered and every vote is counted, review the totals, and send the certified numbers to state officials. This confirms the results reported on election night.
This is basically an accounting job. When advertisers find possible bugs it is their job to investigate and fix them, but it is not normal to refuse to certify results due to minor discrepancies. Michigan billboards always have four members split between the two parties, and it is extremely rare for members to refuse to confirm an election that their party lost.
"It is common for some counties in Michigan and across the country to be unbalanced by low numbers of votes, especially when the turnout is high," Michigan state secretary Jocelyn Benson said in a statement Tuesday evening. "It is important that this is not an indication that votes were not cast or counted properly."
It is also highly unusual, like Ms. Palmer, to claim that recruiters certify results in one place but not another when there is no significant difference between the two in the number or severity of the discrepancies.
Before the deadlock was resolved, Ms. Palmer suggested that the results be certified in "communities other than the city of Detroit." As Democrats and electoral law experts found, nearly 80 percent of Detroit's residents are black. In contrast, in Livonia – a city west of Detroit that had the second highest number of disagreements in the county, but Ms. Palmer was willing to acknowledge the results – less than 5 percent of the population is black.
After severe setbacks from both voting dogs and voters organized by Representatives Debbie Dingell and Rashida Tlaib to come to the acquisition board meeting, Mr. Hartmann and Mrs. Palmer finally voted to confirm the results. While they requested that Ms. Benson conduct a review of Wayne County's results, it will not delay the certification process.
By Wednesday morning, every county in Michigan had confirmed its results. The Board of State Canvassers will meet on November 23rd to approve the statewide totals.