Two Republican canvassers in Michigan’s largest county are attempting to rescind their votes certifying that Joe Biden won there after President Donald Trump personally called them, The Associated Press reported.
Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, who represent half of the four-member Wayne County canvassing board, initially refused to certify the election results on Tuesday ― an unprecedented move ― despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud. They quickly backtracked, voting later that day to certify the results.
Trump reportedly reached out to Palmer and Hartmann later that night after the board certified the results. Now, the two GOP canvassers say they want to rescind their votes.
The president’s decision to call them and the canvassers efforts to walk back their votes drew swift backlash from some election and law experts, who raised questions regarding the legality and ethics of it all.
“This is an utterly brazen attack on our democracy,” tweeted Josh Douglas, an election law and voting rights professor at the University of Kentucky.
Deepak Gupta, a lawyer and Harvard Law School lecturer, called Trump’s actions “truly shocking.”
“A new low for American constitutional democracy, one that would have been unthinkable just five years ago,” Gupta tweeted.
Biden won nearly 70% of the votes in Wayne County, a Democratic stronghold that includes Detroit. But Trump and his allies have falsely declared victory in the state. Trump has baselessly claimed there was widespread voter fraud in Detroit, alleging Wednesday that there were “FAR MORE VOTES THAN PEOPLE” in the city. (That’s false: More than 670,000 people live in Detroit. The city said a little more than 250,000 ballots were cast there.)
Palmer and Hartmann have said they decided to vote in favor of certification after facing backlash and accusations of being racist over their initial opposition. (The two canvassers are white. Detroit’s population is 75% Black.)
In two affidavits signed Wednesday, Palmer and Hartmann sought to “rescind” their votes, saying that they believe the results “should not be certified.”
The Trump campaign on Thursday withdrew a federal lawsuit it had filed to stop the certification of results in Wayne County. In a statement, Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani said the campaign did so because the certification process had stopped, citing the two affidavits.
Michigan election officials balked at the canvassers’ efforts.
“There is no legal mechanism for them to rescind their vote,” Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for Michigan’s top election official, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, told The New York Times on Thursday.
Wimmer said that the county canvassers’ “job is done” and that the board of state canvassers would meet Monday to certify the results.
Palmer denied in an interview with The Washington Post that Trump pressured her to rescind her vote, which she attempted to do hours after speaking with him.
“He was checking in to make sure I was safe after hearing the threats and doxxing that had occurred,” Palmer said, adding that his concern about her safety was “really touching.”
Palmer told the Post it was “hard” to describe the phone call when asked if she discussed the presidential vote count with Trump.
Trump has refused to concede the election to Biden, despite virtually all major media networks projecting Biden the winner. Several world leaders and some Republican lawmakers have congratulated Biden on his victory.
The Trump campaign has filed multiple lawsuits in several states alleging voter fraud and ballot-counting irregularities but has provided no evidence of widespread issues. Multiple judges have thrown out some of the lawsuits, and top election officials have rejected the campaign’s claims.
Trump is pursuing a partial recount in Wisconsin, where early election results showed Biden prevailing over Trump by about 20,000 votes, the state’s election commission announced Wednesday.