People power stops a racist GOP electoral coup in Michigan
Zinnia Patcas, an organizer with UNITE HERE, on the streets of Detroit following the projection on Nov. 7 that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had won the 2020 election. The latest effort of the GOP to overturn the results was blocked on Tuesday night this week. At its Nov. 17 meeting, the Wayne Co. Board of Canvassers initially refused to certify votes from Black majority areas around Detroit. An immediate backlash by Michiganders forced the board to reverse course within hours. | Unite Here via Twitter

The Wayne County, Michigan Board of Canvassers did an about-face late last night and voted to certify the results of the Nov. 3 election in the predominantly African-American city of Detroit and its suburbs. The vote was a unanimous 4-0.

Only three hours earlier, the board was deadlocked, 2-2, with two GOP members opposed to certification.

The determination of the people, from coast to coast, to stop Trump from stealing the election shined through in Michigan last night and around the country as a firestorm of protest erupted on Twitter, other social media, and in real time in Detroit.

Michiganders who were watching the Wayne Co. Board of Canvassers meeting live online immediately scolded board members following their decision not to certify the election results from Wayne County, which includes the Black-majority wards in Detroit. | Screenshots from video feed broadcast by Michigan United

Hundreds of Wayne County residents rose up at the online board meeting, accusing the board’s Republican members of “disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of voters—particularly African-American voters—in refusing to certify the election.”

Hundreds of Wayne County residents waited hours to give public comment.

They remained even after the board recessed, and one after another, they demanded that the board members come back and stop the assault on democracy.

They received strong support from Detroit’s Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who condemned the racist move to disenfranchise the voters of Detroit and called upon the board members to come back and reverse their decision. She was joined by lawmakers from all over Michigan and across the country.

After feeling the pressure for three hours, which included condemnation on national television by activists from all over the country, the board returned, and the GOP members backed down, ultimately voting to certify the results.

The initial decision not to certify reflected a willingness by the GOP to go way beyond the vote suppression techniques they have thus far carried out. This was the first time that they took direct action to toss out hundreds of thousands of African-American votes after those votes were already cast.

The board’s initial refusal to certify the results was cheered by President Donald Trump, whose absurd legal challenges to the Biden-Harris victory have been rejected by courts not just in Michigan but also in Pennsylvania and Arizona. Trump tweeted last night:

“Wow! Michigan just refused to certify the election results! Having courage is a beautiful thing. The USA stands proud!”

Trump lawyers and GOP lawmakers could barely contain their glee last night when the Republicans on the board first refused to certify the votes. Trump lawyer Jena Ellis tweeted the following:

This evening, the county board of canvassers in Wayne County, MI refused to certify the election results. If the state board follows suit, the Republican state legislator [sic] will select the electors. Huge win for @realDonaldTrump.”

The Michigan Republican Party also showed its true autocratic and fascistic orientation. After the initial vote, the state GOP party chair, Laura Cox, said:

“I am proud that, due to the efforts of the Michigan Republican Party, the Republican National Committee, and the Trump Campaign, enough evidence of irregularities and potential voter fraud was uncovered resulting in the Wayne County Board of Canvassers refusing to certify their election results. This action will allow more time for us to get to the bottom of these deeply troubling irregularities.”

Only some 300 discrepancies were found among hundreds of thousands of votes cast and the overwhelming majority of those occurred because of bookkeeping errors in recording the number of incoming mail-in ballots. None of the discrepancies concerned people not entitled to vote having cast ballots.

Biden won Michigan by 148,000 votes. Trump won Michigan by only 11,000 votes over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Mark Brewer, a leading Democratic election lawyer in Michigan, called the initial vote by the Wayne County Board of Canvassers “outrageous, unprecedented, and racist,” and said the two white Republicans on the board “have essentially disenfranchised Black voters.”

Even if Trump had somehow prevailed in the Michigan plot, Biden still would have had the 270 electoral needed to win the presidency.

Trump rolled out an additional part of his assault on the election results yesterday evening when he fired Christopher Krebs, the U.S. government’s top cybersecurity official.

Krebs made Trump unhappy by undercutting the president’s plans to sabotage the Biden victory. He exposed the falsehood of conspiracy theories that Trump and his allies, including U.S. senators like Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, which have denied the legitimacy of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Krebs, the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, oversaw the defense of the 2018 and 2020 elections, as well as the protection of federal computer networks and critical infrastructure facilities such as hospitals and power plants.

Fired for telling the truth: In this May 22, 2019, file photo, Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Donald Trump on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, fired Krebs, the director of the federal agency that vouched for the reliability of the 2020 election. Trump fired Krebs in a tweet, saying his recent statement defending the security of the election was “highly inaccurate.” | Carolyn Kaster / AP

In tweets posted Tuesday evening, Trump claimed that a recent statement issued by Krebs’ agency and several partners, which reassured Americans that the 2020 election had been conducted securely, “was highly inaccurate.”

“There were massive improprieties and fraud—including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, ‘glitches’ in the voting machines which changed … votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more,” Trump tweeted, though those claims are all false. “Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated.”

With his legal options closed, Trump forces can be expected to try to repeat what they did in Wayne County elsewhere. And his Washington purges will likely also carry on, putting more loyalists into positions of power.

Vigilance is still as important as ever in the struggle to protect the vote.

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John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.