The two Republicans on Wayne County’s elections board who changed their votes to certify the county’s results on the condition of an audit now say that they were misled by the Democratic vice chair, who originally promised that one would occur but now says that their compromise was non-binding.
In separate affidavits signed Wednesday night, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann claimed that they were pressured to flip and vote to certify Wayne County’s election, and accused Democrats of going back on a promise to audit the vote count in Detroit.
“I rescind my vote,” Palmer wrote in the affidavit. “I fully believe the Wayne County vote should not be certified.”
Hartmann signed a similar affidavit, according to The Washington Post.
Though Palmer and Hartmann originally voted against certifying the results for all of Wayne County, the most populous county in Michigan, their initial qualms had to do with election disparities in Detroit. The two said that the official list of who voted did not match the number of ballots counted, but agreed to certify the results after Jim Kinloch, the board’s vice chair, said Detroit’s results would be audited.
The two then changed course, voting to certify the results hours later.
Now, Palmer says that she was “misled,” since she thought there was an official commitment to an audit that is unlikely to happen.
“I stand firm in not certifying Wayne County without the audit,” she added.
Kinloch, however, said that the two GOP members “knew it wasn’t binding,” according to the Post, and said that while he supported an audit, he could not get in touch with the office of Michigan’s secretary of state to formally ask for one.
Despite their reversals, it is too late for them to actually change their votes, according to Kinloch, who said that the county’s results had already been certified and sent to the secretary of state. Kinloch, a Democrat, also lashed out at the two over their reversal.
“Do they understand how they are making us look as a body?” he told the Post. “We have such an amazing and important role in the democratic process, and they’re turning it on its head.”
After Palmer and Hartmann voted against certifying the county’s results Tuesday evening, they faced an onslaught of criticism from opponents who described their decisions as racist, noting that they certified results from other cities with larger discrepancies. Detroit, Michigan’s largest city, is nearly 80% African-American, according to the Census Bureau.
Palmer said that she never expected her original vote to change the final results in Wayne County or Michigan, where President-elect Joe Biden beat President Donald Trump by over 150,000 votes.
“We always knew that the margin of victory was such that it was not going to change the result,” she told the Post Wednesday.
Palmer also described Tuesday night as “heartbreaking,” telling the Post that she never intended to disenfranchise any voters, and that she had faced death threats against her and her family as a result.
Elections reporter. Follow Andrew on Twitter @atrunsky.
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